The naturalization process is one which allows a foreign citizen to become a full fledged United States citizen, granted the same rights and privileges as any natural born citizen, including the right to vote in federal elections, which is something that visa holders and lawful permanent residents can’t do, even if they have been in the United States for a majority of their lives.
Qualifying for Naturalization
In order to qualify for naturalization, a person must be a lawful permanent resident of the United States for at least five years. If the person seeking naturalization is married to a U.S. citizen, then the wait is reduced to just three years. The wait may be substantially reduced if the person seeking naturalization served in the military for a qualifying period of time. A child can be naturalized if the child was born to U.S. citizens on foreign soil, even if the family remains outside of the country for an extended period of time after the child’s birth.
Children Born to Foreign Parents
Children who were born on foreign soil to foreign parents may not need to apply for naturalization because, if the children’s birth or adoptive parents became naturalized U.S. citizens before the child turned 18, then the child may already be considered a U.S. citizen.
English and Civics Testing Requirement
Prior to becoming a naturalized U.S. citizen and taking the Oath of Naturalization, which finalizes the process, the foreign citizen seeking to be naturalized must successfully pass a basic English and civics test administered by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Certain exemptions to this testing requirement exist for individuals who have been in the United States for a certain number of years and those who are at least a certain age – if a person may qualify for an exemption to the testing requirement, then an attorney can advise the person of this fact and the benefits which the exemption provides.
Other Benefits of Working with an Attorney
Along with getting the most up to date information on testing exemptions which may exist for foreign citizens who are trying to become naturalized U.S. citizens, a person who partners with an experienced immigration and naturalization attorney for help through the naturalization application process receives several major benefits that those who try to apply for naturalization on their own don’t get to enjoy. Benefits like being able to have an experienced legal professional look over an application to ensure it is filled out completely and properly, and having a professional on hand to offer custom tailored advice to a person’s specific immigration related questions..
Prior to Naturalization
Until the naturalization process is finalized, a foreign citizen may still be deported or removed from the United States and sent back to his or her country of origin for violations of major U.S. laws and for violations of certain immigration policies. Only after naturalized citizenship is granted is a former foreign citizen free from the risk of being ordered removed from the country. However, if a naturalization is procured by fraud, then an immigration court may revoke the fraudster’s citizenship and have the person returned to his or her country of origin.