Citizenship/Naturalization

What are some benefits of becoming a U.S. citizen?

  • Gives you the right to vote
  • Allows you to serve on a jury
  • Allows you to travel on a U.S. passport
  • Protects you from removal (deportation)
  • Qualifies you for jobs requiring U.S. citizenship
  • Enables you to petition for family members to the United States more easily

U.S. citizenship is automatic if you were born in the United States or certain U.S. territories.  Also, a person may automatically acquire citizenship through a U.S. citizen parent.  There are two ways to obtain U.S. citizenship through your parent: 1) at birth, and 2) after birth but before the age of 18. To read more about citizenship through your parents, click here.

Our Attorney can assist you to determine whether you are able to acquire U.S. citizenship.

People that are permanent residents or green card holders and wish to become a U.S. citizen must apply to become a naturalized U.S. citizen.  As a permanent resident, you can apply for U.S. citizenship after you have met the eligibility requirements, which may include:

  • Residency in the United States: 5 years or 3 years as the spouse of a U.S. citizen
  • Demonstrate good moral character
  • Pass the Naturalization Test, which requires a basic knowledge of English, U.S. history, and government

There are special provisions for U.S. military members, and the spouses and children of military members.  To read more about citizenship as a U.S. military member, click here.

At Habich Law, we will guide you through the naturalization process by helping you with the application process and preparing you for the naturalization examination.

At your naturalization interview, you will be required to answer questions about your application and background.  You will also take an English and civics test unless you qualify for an exemption or waiver. For more resources on preparing for the exam, visit here.

*The attorney attends all Naturalization interviews before USCIS with our clients.*

Some Frequently Asked Questions:

  1. Do I need to take the English portion of the naturalization exam?

You may be exempt from the English language requirement if:

  • You are 50 years old and have lived in the United States for 20 years as a permanent resident.

OR

  • You are 55 years old and have lived in the United States for 15 years as a permanent resident.

However, you will still be required to take the civics portion of the test.  Do not worry, we will provide you the questions and answers for the civic portion of the exam and practice with you until you are ready for the exam.

  1. What if I have a disability and cannot take the exam?

You may be eligible for an exception to the English and civics portion of the naturalization exam if you have a physical or developmental disability or a mental impairment that prevents you from complying with this requirement.  To request this exception, a licensed medical or osteopathic doctor, or licensed clinical psychologist will need to complete Form N-648, Medical Certification for Disability Exceptions on your behalf.

  1. In the last five years, I have traveled a lot outside of the United States. Will that affect my eligibility for naturalization?

It may.  You must be physically present in the United States for thirty months in the last five years before applying.

If you obtained permanent residence on the basis of your marriage to your U.S. citizen spouse, you must only show that you were physically present in the U.S. for eighteen months in the last three years before applying.

  1. Can I legally change my name when I naturalize?

Yes.  If you present proof that you have already changed your name according to the legal requirements that apply to persons living in your State, USCIS can issue the Certificate of Naturalization with your new name. Such proof might include a marriage certificate or divorce decree showing that you changed your name when you married or divorced. It might also include some other State court order establishing that you changed your name.  Otherwise, if you are going to take the Oath of Allegiance at a Naturalization Ceremony that is held in Court, you may ask the Court to change your name. If the Court grants your request, your new name will appear on your Certificate of Naturalization.

  1. If USCIS recommends my application for naturalization, when will I become a U.S. citizen?

You become a United States citizen as soon as you take the Oath of Allegiance to the United States in a formal naturalization ceremony. USCIS will notify you of the ceremony date with a “Notice of Naturalization Oath Ceremony” (Form N-445).