Immigration Naturalization

Immigration Naturalization is a way of becoming a United States citizen for foreign-born nationals. Persons not born in the U.S. or persons that did not acquire their U.S. citizenship as a child through the citizenship of their parents are eligible to become citizens through the immigration naturalization process. Children of immigrants and/or permanent residents born on U.S. soil or in a U.S. territory are automatically considered citizens of the U.S. by birth. A child born in a foreign country is considered an American citizen if he/she is born to two U.S. citizens or if at least one of the citizen parents lived in the U.S. previously. A foreign-born child may also be eligible for citizenship if one parent was a citizen before the child was born or if the citizen parent lived in the United States at least five years before the child was born.

Millions of individuals seek U.S. citizenship every year. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has a set limit of individuals that can become citizens through the immigration naturalization process. The United States has general immigration naturalization requirements that must be met by any person wishing to become a U.S. citizen.

General Requirements for Naturalization

General immigration naturalization requirements include:

  • Age - The applicant must be at least 18 years of age. There are special cases where waivers and exceptions are granted to children less than 18 years of age.
  • Residency - The applicant must have been lawfully admitted and granted permanent residency (Green Card) in the U.S.
  • Physical Presence – The applicant must have resided continuously for at least five years (statutory period) prior to filing for naturalization with no single absence from the country over one year in length. An absence of more than six months but less than one year will disrupt the applicant's requirement of continuity of residence.
  • Good Moral Character – The applicant must demonstrate that he/she has been a person of good moral character for the statutory period preceding the filing for immigration naturalization. An applicant is permanently barred from immigration naturalization if he/she:
    • has ever been convicted of murder
    • has been convicted of an aggravated felony

Common Disqualifiers for US Citizenship

An applicant for immigration naturalization will have their moral character scrutinized while they are in their five-year statutory period as a permanent resident. According to the USCIS, a permanent resident can be disqualified from U.S. citizenship if within the statutory period he/she is:

  • convicted of one or more crimes involving moral turpitude
  • convicted of two or more offenses for which he/she was sentenced to five years or more in prison
  • convicted of any controlled substance law, except for a single offense of simple possession of 30 grams or less of marijuana
  • confined to a penal institution as a result of a conviction, for an aggregate period of 180 days or more
  • convicted of two or more gambling offenses
  • has earned his/her principal income from illegal gambling
  • has been involved in prostitution or commercialized vice
  • has been involved in smuggling illegal aliens into the united states
  • has been a habitual drunkard
  • has practiced polygamy
  • has willfully failed or refused to support dependents
  • has given false testimony, under oath, in order to receive a benefit under the Immigration and Nationality Act

If you or someone you know are considering immigration naturalization and need the assistance of an immigration attorney, you should contact an experienced immigration attorney to increase your chances of being approved for U.S. citizenship.


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