Naturalization & Citizenship

Disclaimer: The information below is a basic explanation of Naturalization & Citizenship and is not legal advice.  Each immigration case is different based on a person’s individual immigration, family, and criminal history.

Naturalization by Application

A Lawful Permanent Resident may apply to become a U.S. Citizen through a process called “naturalization.”  In general, in order to be eligible to apply for naturalization, a Permanent Resident must:

  • Be at least 18 years old;
  • Have maintained his/her Resident status for five years;
  • Have maintained physical presence in the U.S. for at least one half of the five years preceding the application;
  • Be a person of good moral character for five years preceding the application;
  • Must have gained his/her Resident status lawfully and without misrepresentation;
  • Must not have committed an immigration violation that renders the person deportable;
  • Must be living for at least three months in the State where the application is filed;
  • Must live continuously in the United States from the date of the naturalization application until admitted for citizenship.

If a Lawful Permanent Resident applying for naturalization is married and living with a U.S. Citizen, obtained residency through VAWA, is in the military, previously served in the U.S. military in an armed conflict, is the spouse or child living with a service member abroad, is working abroad, or is a spouse of a U.S. Citizen working abroad there are special naturalization rules that may apply.

Note:   If a person applying for naturalization has ever been arrested, deported, registered to vote, voted, withheld/misrepresented information on any previous immigration application; or if you are male under the age of 31 years old and did not register for the Selective Service, you should consult with an immigration attorney before applying for naturalization.

Citizenship by Acquisition

A person may acquire U.S. Citizenship through birth if born outside of the United States where one or both of his/her parents are U.S. Citizens who meet specific residence and physical presence requirements. Additionally, a child adopted lawfully abroad to a U.S. Citizen parent, who then enters the United States on an immigrant visa, will become a U.S. Citizen upon his/her admittance to the United States.

A child who is a Resident may derive citizenship from a parent that becomes a naturalized citizen, if he or she was under 18 years old at the time the parent naturalized, was living in the United States as a Lawful Permanent Resident, and was residing in the legal and physical custody of the naturalized citizen parent.

For advice specific to your case, please call Hoffmann Immigration Law, LLC at (815) 394-1359 to set up a consultation with one of our attorneys.