How to Get U.S. Citizenship
Citizenship in the United States comes with a wide range of rights, privileges, and benefits. It is for this very reason that people from around the world sacrifice so much to immigrate to the U.S. and become citizens. However, many people aren’t exactly sure how to get U.S. citizenship.
The U.S. immigration process is notoriously complex, lengthy, and oftentimes overwhelming. Here at the Milovic Law Firm, we seek to make the process easier to understand and to help you achieve the best outcome. Today, we’re breaking down the topic of how to get U.S. citizenship so you know exactly what it takes to achieve your outcome.
Below, we will cover the various requirements that an individual must meet in order to be eligible for citizenship in the United States. As it is the final step of your U.S. immigration journey, it’s essential to understand these requirements before you apply with USCIS.
To apply for naturalization, you need to be at least 18 years old. There is an exception for active duty members of the U.S. armed forces.
Continuous and Physical Presence
You must have lived in the U.S. as a green card holder (permanent resident) for at least 5 years without taking any trips outside the U.S. lasting over 6 months. If you are married to a U.S. citizen, the continuous presence requirement is 3 years. You are also required to have been physically present inside the U.S. for at least half the time period of your continuous residence requirement. For example, if the 5-year continuous residence requirement applies to you, you must have been physically present inside the U.S. for at least 30 months prior to filing your citizenship application.
Don’t worry, you can still take vacations and trips to see your family members out of the country. Just make sure that when you travel, your stay outside the U.S. does not exceed a time period of 6 months.
If you have left the U.S. for more than 6 months but less than 12 months, USCIS may find that you have broken your “continuous residence” requirement. You will have the opportunity to prove otherwise. If you leave the country for 1 year or longer, USCIS will find you ineligible to apply for naturalization and your previous presence in the U.S. will no longer count toward your residence requirement.
Each situation may differ depending on your classification and whether you applied for a Re-Entry Permit. Be sure to talk to an attorney if you have been outside the U.S. for more than 6 months or 1 year.
Good Moral Character
An applicant for naturalization must show to have been a person of good moral character during the statutory period prior to becoming a U.S. citizen. USCIS defines “good moral character” as character that measures up to the standard of the average American citizen, based upon laws established by U.S. Congress. Each immigration application is examined on a case-by-case basis to determine whether it meets this requirement.
Examples of what USCIS may consider as NOT having “good moral character” may be the most straightforward illustration of this concept:
- 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.
- Habitual drunkenness; Illegal gambling; Prostitution; or Polygamy (marriage to more than one person at the same time).
- 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.
Civics & English Test
To pass your citizenship eligibility, you must take the English and civics test to demonstrate your proficiency of the English language as well as some knowledge of U.S. history and form of government. Do not fret! USCIS has free study materials available to make sure you are well prepared on the day of your test. Exceptions to the testing requirement may apply based on the applicant’s age and presence in the U.S. or due a medical disability. Be sure to discuss these exceptions with a knowledgeable immigration attorney.
Oath of Allegiance
Finally, upon USCIS approving your Application for Naturalization, you will be invited to your swear-in ceremony before you are officially declared a U.S. citizen. You must be willing to take the Oath of Allegiance.
Oath of Allegiance
“I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God.”
Skilled Immigration Lawyers in Phoenix, AZ
If you or a loved one are in need of a top Phoenix immigration lawyer, look no further than the Milovic Law Firm. When you work with us, you become an extension of our legal family and you will receive our full dedication, compassion, and aggressive pursuit to obtain best possible outcome in your case.
Our legal team can assist you with preparing your immigration application and gathering the necessary documents and in order to afford you the best possible chance at success. For a free consultation with one of our skilled Phoenix immigration attorneys, contact us today.