Once someone gets a green card, the next question is often: when can I qualify for U.S. citizenship? While not everyone applies for citizenship when they can, it is the next logical progression after obtaining permanent residency status. However, there are specific criteria set out by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that you must meet before you can apply for your U.S. passport and all the rights that come with it.
Age – First, you must be at least 18 years of age to file an application. Minor children whose parents become citizens will automatically be eligible for an adjustment of their status to a citizen.
Time – Generally, you must have your green card for at least five years before you become eligible for citizenship. Spouses of U.S. citizens might be eligible to apply for naturalization after 3 years if they have been living in marital union with the same U.S. citizen spouse during the last 3 years and they meet all other eligibility requirements.
Residence – You must have had an established residence in the U.S. for the five years prior to your application. You needed to be present in the U.S. for at least two and a half years (30 months) of those five years. Furthermore, you must live within the district or state where you apply for at least three months.
Connection to the U.S. – To qualify, you must be able to demonstrate that you have a basic knowledge of U.S. civics, government, and history, that you can speak, write, and read basic English, and that you are willing to pledge allegiance to the ideals and principles of the U.S.
Good Moral Character – This is an important requirement, USCIS will consider if the Applicant has a criminal record and/or if there were any misrepresentations made by the applicant.
Contact an Immigration Lawyer in Orange County for More Information
If you are considering an application for citizenship, you should schedule a meeting with an Orange County immigration attorney at Brudner Law today. While the criteria may seem straightforward, obtaining citizenship can be more complicated than many people think. Call 714.794.9366 or contact us online to discuss your options.