What is the Process of Naturalization in the United States?

People come to the United States from all over the world for a variety of reasons. In order to enter the country legally, foreign individuals are required to obtain a certain status. Many people come with the intention of staying and becoming a legal citizen. As a citizen, people have access to certain privileges that non-citizens do not. This can include the right to vote, running for government office positions, and more.

To become a citizen, one must go through the process of naturalization. While this can be very long and complex, it is extremely rewarding. The process of naturalization consists of several requirements that must be met before it is completed.

Eligibility

Foreigners must meet certain requirements to be considered for citizenship. The applicant must be 18 years or older and satisfy one of the following:

  • A permanent resident of the United States for the past 5 years
  • A permanent resident and served in the United States military for 3 years
  • Have asylum in the United States for 4 years
  • Lived in the country as a spouse of a United States citizen for 3 years

Proof of Residence

When an applicant meets these requirements, they can continue with the process of naturalization. All applications require proof of residency within the country. They are not able to have one absence from the United States for more than one year. If there is an absence of six months or more on an application, it may be delayed or disrupted. If they do leave the country, the applicant may be required to prove with evidence that they did not abandon their residence.

Demonstrating Character

An applicant’s character is taken into consideration when assessing whether or not they should be approved for citizenship. They must have “good moral character” and be an upstanding member of society. This requires that they are not involved in any trouble while they are a resident of the United States. If the applicant has a criminal record, they may not be approved for citizenship. This can include crimes such as assault, murder, rape, robbery, drug crimes, and more.

Knowledge of the Country

Part of the naturalization process is testing an applicant’s knowledge of United States history. These tests are cover government and the English language. There are exceptions to taking the test for certain applicants. Those over the age of 50 who have lived in the country for over 20 years are not required to take the language test. However, they must still pass a civics test. This is also the case for applicants over the age of 55 that has lived in the country for more than 15 years.

Approval Process

Once an applicant is approved for citizenship, they are required to pledge their loyalty through the country. This is done with a ceremony in which they will take an oath of allegiance. The applicant’s family and friends are encouraged to attend and watch their achievement. After the ceremony is over, the individual is officially a United States citizen.

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The Law Offices of Cheryl R. David practices immigration law throughout NYC. If you have questions about your particular matters regarding immigration please contact the office to discuss your circumstances and options.