Naturalization is the way immigrants become citizens of the United States. If you were not born a citizen, you must be naturalized to become one.
The Constitution gives many rights to citizens and non-citizens living in the United States. However, there are some rights the Constitution gives only to citizens, like the right to vote. When you are naturalized, you will be given the right to vote. Having a U.S. passport is another benefit of citizenship. A U.S. passport allows citizens the freedom to travel. In addition, citizens receive U.S. Government protection and assistance when abroad. This does not include all the benefits of citizenship, but this gives you an idea of some of the most important benefits.
You may become a U.S. citizen (1) by birth or (2) through naturalization.
Generally, people are born U.S. citizens if they are born in the United States or if they are born to U.S. citizens.
If you were born in the United States (including, in most cases, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands) you are an American citizen at birth (unless you were born to a foreign diplomat). Your birth certificate is proof of your citizenship.
If you were born abroad to two U.S. citizens and at least one of your parents lived in the United States at some point in his or her life, then in most cases you are a U.S. citizen.
If you were born abroad to ONE U.S. citizen, in most cases, you are a U.S. citizen if ALL of the following are true:
- One of your parents was a U.S. citizen when you were born;
- Your citizen parent lived at least 5 years in the United States before you were born; and
- At least 2 of these 5 years in the United States were after your citizen parent’s 14th birthday. Your record of birth abroad, if registered with a U.S. consulate or embassy, is proof of your citizenship. You may also apply for a passport to have your citizenship recognized.
Citizenship through Application
If you are not a U.S. citizen by birth or did not acquire U.S. citizenship automatically after birth, you may still be eligible to become a citizen through the normal naturalization process.
Naturalization is the process by which U.S. citizenship is conferred upon a foreign citizen or national after he or she fulfills the requirements established by Congress in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).The time it takes for your naturalizaton application to be processed varies by location. You become a citizen as soon as you take the Oath of Allegiance to the United States. In some places, you can choose to take the Oath the same day as your interview. If that option is not available or if you prefer a ceremony at a later date, USCIS will notify you of the ceremony date with a “Notice of Naturalization Oath Ceremony.”
You can change your name as part of your naturalization if a court in your area conducts naturalization oath ceremonies. Otherwise, no name change can be recorded on your Certificate of Naturalization unless you already changed your name legally (such as by marriage) before completing the naturalization process.
If you decide to change your name, you will be required to complete a Petition for Name Change during your interview. Petitioning the court to change your name may delay the date of your oath ceremony, in some cases. If you petition to change your name, the new name will not be legally binding until after your oath ceremony. Your new name will appear on your Certificate of Naturalization. USCIS does not process petitions for a name change after naturalization. However, you still may change your name after naturalization by other legal means.
In many cases, you may reapply if your case has been denied. If you reapply, you will need to complete and resubmit a new application and pay the fee again. You will also need to have your fingerprints and photographs taken again. If your application is denied, the denial letter should indicate the date you may reapply for citizenship.
A child who is born in the United States, or born abroad to a U.S. citizen(s) who lived in (or came to) the United States for a period of time prior to the child’s birth, is generally considered a U.S. citizen at birth.The child was lawfully admitted for permanent residence, and either parent was a United States citizen by birth or naturalization; and
If you are denied because you failed the English or civics test, you may reapply for naturalization as soon as you want. You should reapply whenever you believe you have learned enough English or civics to pass the tests.
If you have any questions, you should contact Immigration Solutions Group by clicking here for an appointment.
The general requirements for administrative naturalization include:
- a period of continuous residence and physical presence in the United States;
- residence in a particular USCIS District prior to filing;
- an ability to read, write, and speak English;
- a knowledge and understanding of U.S. history and government;
- good moral character;
- attachment to the principles of the U.S. Constitution; and,
- favorable disposition toward the United States.
Note: Recent changes in immigration law and USCIS procedures now make it easier for U.S. military personnel to naturalize.
All naturalization applicants must demonstrate good moral character, attachment, and favorable disposition. The other naturalization requirements may be modified or waived for certain applicants, such as spouses of U.S. citizens.