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The United States naturalizes more people each year than most of the world combined, and Knight Immigration is proud to assist in creating new citizens to add to the beautiful mosaic that is our country. Despite the ongoing problems and challenges in navigating the U.S. immigration complex’s various paths to a green card, making the change from permanent resident to citizen is comparatively quite simple.
To apply, the applicant must have been a green card holder for at least five years, and before applying the applicant must have been physically present in the U.S. for the better half of those five years with no absences exceeding six months. They must also show good moral character during this period, which generally entails paying taxes and the absence of a criminal record. Before a decision is reached on the naturalization application, the individual will attend an interview with USCIS and demonstrate their knowledge of our country’s history, civics, politics, and geography. The application and interview are done in English, so a working knowledge of the language is required. After approval, the applicant must take the oath of naturalization at a formal swearing-in ceremony, often done at a U.S. courthouse.
As with all other immigration benefits, there may be exceptions to some of these requirements, such as an age or disability issue that frustrates the English requirement, or a justified absence overseas for longer than six months. Certain classes of individuals, such as veterans, have special provisions for citizenship. Because naturalization is the last and most critical step in a long immigration process, Knight Immigration advises that applicants seek legal advice or representation before applying. USCIS thoroughly scrutinizes each individual’s complete immigration history to ensure there were no violations or fraud issues that could prevent naturalization.
For many natural born citizens, the concept and responsibilities of American citizenship are often neglected and underdeveloped – many cannot pass the civics test despite living inside the U.S their entire lives and graduating from U.S. public schools. This representative republic cannot sustain itself through uneducated and uninvolved citizens. At Knight Immigration we heartily recommend that naturalized citizens stay educated and interested in our government – and vote!
Citizenship issues are not exclusive to permanent residents. Individuals born overseas to U.S. citizen parents are subject to various provisions to register the birth, often complicated by the need to apply the statute that was in effect at the time of birth, not the current statute. For individuals born to unwed parents or in situations where only one parent is a citizen can also complicate the procedure. Expecting U.S. citizen parents who are overseas will want to consult with an immigration attorney about the proper procedures to ensure U.S. citizenship is bestowed on their child. Individuals born overseas who believe they are U.S. citizens will also want to work with an attorney to determine not only if their claims are valid but if they can be proven under the relevant statutory framework.