Becoming a citizen of the United States of America: Who is eligible?
Generally, you may apply for US citizenship if:
- You have been a permanent resident for at least 5 years and meet all other eligibility requirements.
- People, who received their green card through asylum, sometimes wonder if they can apply for citizenship only 4 years after receiving their green card. The fact is that when asylee’s green card is granted, the date of adjustment of status rolled back 1 year from the date the physical green card is issued. Thus, look at your green card and the permanent residence date listed on green card. If it has been five years since the date listed on your green card and you satisfy other requirements for naturalization, you may be eligible for applying for citizenship in the United States. In reality, in most cases it means that asylees can apply for citizenship 4 years after they have received their green card in the mail.
- You have been a permanent resident for 3 years or more and meet all eligibility requirements to file as a spouse of a U.S. citizen.
- Your child may qualify for naturalization if you are a U.S. citizen, the child was born outside the U.S., the child is currently residing outside the U.S., and all other eligibility requirements are met.
- You have qualifying service in the U.S. armed forces and meet all other eligibility requirements. There are additional benefits for U.S. military spouses, including shorter wait time for citizenship in some cases.
ADDITIONAL REQUIREMENTS FOR NATURALIZATION:
Generally, you must show that you have been continuously in the U.S.
“Continuous residence” means that you have not left the United States for a long period of time. To be specific you should not have left the U.S. for more than 6 months. If you leave the United States for too long, you may interrupt your continuous residence. Some exceptions may apply.
To become a citizen of the U.S. you should also show that you have been “physically present” in the U.S.
“Physical presence” means that you have actually been in the United States. Most applicants must be physically present in the United States for a certain number of months to be eligible for naturalization (5 years for most green card holders and 3 years for spouses of US citizens). If you are applying for citizenship in the U.S. based on your service in the U.S. military, you may be eligible to apply under special provisions for military in the Immigration and Nationality Act.
The final and one of the most important requirements to become a citizen of the U.S. is having good moral character.
While filling out your paperwork you must disclose all arrests and convictions that you had. You must also disclose all traffic violations, if they were alcohol or drug related, or resulted in a fine of $500 or more and/or points taken off your driving record.
Some arrests and convictions may result in automatic denial of your application, such as aggravated felonies and murder convictions. Other convictions may also indicate lack of good moral character and may result in denial of your citizenship petition. In some cases, if a person with serious criminal record applies for naturalization, USCIS may decide to start removal proceedings against that person.
Examples of such serious offences that indicate lack of good moral character:
- Any crime against a person with intent to harm;
- Any crime against property or the Government that involves “fraud” or evil intent;
- Two or more crimes for which the aggregate sentence was 5 years or more;
- Violating any controlled substance law of the United States, any State, or any foreign country Green card holders with single offence marijuana possession (less than 30 grams) charges may still be eligible to apply for citizenship in some cases;
- Habitual drunkenness;
- Illegal gambling;
- Lying to gain immigration benefits;
- Failing to pay court-ordered child support or alimony payments;
- Confinement in jail, prison, or similar institution for which the total confinement was 180 days or more during the past 5 years (or 3 years if you are applying based on your marriage to a United States citizen);
- Failing to complete any probation, parole, or suspended sentence before you apply for naturalization;
- Terrorist acts;
- Persecution of anyone because of race, religion, national origin, political opinion, or social group;
- If you had arrests or convictions The Law Office of Natalia Malyshkina recommends that you contact an immigration attorney before applying for naturalization. Our law office may review your criminal record to evaluate your chances of becoming a US citizen.
Some green card holders pursue expungement of criminal records.
Even though expungement is a good way to clear the record for a number of valuable purposes, expungement may have no or little value for your naturalization eligibility.
All applicants for citizenship in the US must demonstrate that they can understand, read, and write English language, and that they understand fundamentals of the U.S. history, and principals of this country’s government.
Should you choose to apply for U.S. citizenship, our law office can help you with the entire naturalization process.
Call The Law Office of Natalia Malyshkina to sign up for a confidential consultation 415-240-0083 or e-mail: email@example.com