Citizenship Assistance from a Washington D.C. Immigration Attorney
Naturalization and other immigration issues can be very complex as different rules and steps will apply to different individuals. Most immigrants already living in the United States dream of one day becoming a U.S. citizen; for many, naturalization becomes reality, allowing these individuals to go on with the full benefits of citizenship. Others find naturalization to be a challenging process and may have difficulty passing the required tests, while some find it is simply impossible due to criminal convictions.
It's often a wise decision to consult with an immigration lawyer at the Patel Law Group before choosing to apply for citizenship, as there are risks. If you are not a citizen and have a criminal conviction, you may be barred from ever becoming a naturalized citizen and even trigger removal proceedings. Always consult with an experienced immigration lawyer if you have any criminal history before filing the naturalization application with USCIS so you will understand any risks or potential issues in advance.
Candidates for naturalization meet the following criteria:
- Applicants must be at least 18 years old, already a Permanent Resident with proof of residency.
- Applicant must demonstrate he or she has lived in the U.S. for at least 5 years prior to filing with no absences from the U.S. greater than one year, or 3 years prior to filing if Permanent Resident status was obtained through a citizen spouse.
- Applicant must show he or she is sympathetic to the principles in the U.S. Constitution.
- Applicants must speak, write, read and understand English at a basic level, although exceptions exist.
- Applicant must pass a civics test proving basic understanding of U.S. history and government.
- Applicants must show good moral character for the 3- or 5-year period prior to filing. Instances that show an applicant does not have good moral character include: habitual intoxication, gambling offenses, polygamy, immigration fraud, failing to pay child support, smuggling illegal immigrants and multiple criminal convictions.
- Applicant must take the oath of allegiance.
"Derivation" of U.S. Citizenship
“Derivation” applies to citizenship that is obtained through an action after birth, such as naturalization of a parent. The Child Citizenship Act (CCA), effective February 27, 2001, applies to adopted children and certain foreign-born natural children. A child adopted by a U.S. citizen parent is eligible for the CCA if the child satisfies the requirements applicable to adopted children under the regulations.
The CCA also applies to children who are unmarried children born in wedlock and legitimated children. A foreign national child who was born out of wedlock and has not been legitimated is eligible for derivative citizenship when the mother of such a child becomes a naturalized citizen under certain regulations.
The CCA also applies to children residing in the U.S. pursuant to a lawful admission for permanent residence. Children who had previously been granted lawful permanent residence but were outside the U.S. temporarily on February 27, 2001, became citizens upon their return to the U.S.
The CCA does not include children born out of wedlock who have not been legitimated, since they are not included in the definition of “child.”
The CCA only requires one (1) U.S. citizen parent to confer automatic citizenship. The naturalization of a single foreign national parent, regardless of his or her marital status or the immigration status of the other parent is sufficient for a child to be eligible for citizenship under the CCA.
NOTE: Provided that all other statutory requirements are met, a child whose paternity has not been established by legitimation before the age of 16 may derive citizenship through the mother. Remember that the age for legitimation has varied over the years from 16, 18, or 21 depending on the period and statute in effect.
Contact a Washington D.C. immigration attorney today!
The Patel Law Group may be able to help you through the naturalization process, as qualifying for citizenship is far from easy. Candidates are required to meet several requirements, many of which depend on personal circumstances.