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Naturalization and Citizenship

U.S. Naturalization and Citizenship Lawyers

Naturalization is the legal process by which immigrant/green card holders become U.S. citizens. If you are an immigrant who would like to become a U.S. citizen, the immigration law firm of NPZ Law Group can help you every step of the way. We prepare and submit all the paperwork, file the case, and provide coaching on what you need to know for the interview. We provide phone support and can even arrange for an attorney to attend the interview with you.

To become a naturalized U.S. citizen, an applicant must:

  • Reside within the U.S. for at least five years (three years if lawful permanent residence status was obtained by marriage to a U.S. citizen) and be physically present at least half of that time
  • Resided continuously within the United States from the date of the application up to the time of admission
  • Be a person of good moral character
  • Meet government requirements for literacy and knowledge of U.S. history.

Applicants are tested in their ability to read, write and speak words in ordinary usage in the English language. The following exceptions exist:

  • Persons physically unable comply due to permanent disability are exempt from the literacy requirement with an attestation from a licensed medical doctor or licensed clinical psychologist to support their claim of disability.
  • Applicants who are more than 50 years of age and who have resided in the U.S. for 20 years as permanent resident aliens as of the date of filing the application may be examined in their native language.
  • Applicants who are more than 55 years of age and who have resided in the U.S. for 15 years as permanent resident aliens as of the date of filing the application may be examined in their native language.

Applicants are required to pass an oral history and government examination, even if exempt from the requirements of speaking English.

Acquisition or Derivation of Citizenship

US citizenship is governed by the concept of jus soli, which means that birth in the US makes one a US citizen. However, there are circumstances under which individuals born abroad to at least one US citizen parent are also citizens. For this reason, many people are US citizens without knowing it.

Some children born abroad acquire US citizenship at birth; this is known as "acquisition" citizenship. If both parents were US citizens at the time of birth (and at least one parent resided in the US for a period of time) the chances are good the child acquired US citizenship. If US citizenship is not acquired at birth, a child born abroad may automatically derive US citizenship ("derivative citizenship") if one parent is a US citizen and that parent has been present in the US for a total of 5 years, at least 2 of which were after the age of 14.

Of course, determining whether someone has acquired or derived US citizenship is not a straightforward analysis. Over the years, the law on this subject has changed several times. Depending on the year of an individual's birth, a variety of circumstances may have to be considered including whether the child was born out of wedlock, whether the parents were divorced, whether a child was adopted, and the parent's period of residence in the US.

Finding out that someone is a US citizen without knowing is always a pleasant surprise. But it is particularly helpful when a person is in removal proceedings because US citizens cannot be removed. Given the fluid history of the law regarding citizenship by acquisition or derivation, it is advisable to consult an immigration attorney experience in this area.

How Can We Help?

Our staff of immigration law professionals are sensitive to the needs of our clients and the members of their families. We can clearly explain the immigration process in Spanish, French, Japanese, Korean, Tamil, Hindi, Slovak, Czech, Russian, Chinese, German and English.

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