Naturalization is a procedure for obtaining U.S. citizenship, which can occur in one of three ways: automatically, by a process of law, or by application. In this article, we will look at all three ways a person can obtain citizenship by naturalization. We will look at each method in terms of their requirements and mention when immigration lawyers should be contacted to assist in the naturalization process.
1. Automatic Naturalization
Automatic naturalization applies to people that may have entered the world under one of these four types of situations: those born on U.S. soil, those born overseas but to U.S. parents, those born to foreign heads of state and those who entered the world on ships within U.S. waters. For people that fall into one of the latter three categories, which often entail complex consideration, consulting with an immigration attorney is the best option.
2. Naturalization by a Process of Law
Naturalization by a process of law usually occurs under one of two scenarios: citizenship through naturalization of parents, or citizenship through military service.
a. Citizenship Through Naturalization of Parents
Currently, a child born beyond U.S. borders can achieve citizenship if (a) at least one of their two parents is a U.S. citizen by either birth or naturalization and (b) the child meets the following conditions:
* Under 18 years old.
* Has lawful permanent residency.
* Is within legal and physical custody of the parent that possesses U.S. citizenship.
Obtaining citizenship through naturalization of parents does not apply to step children.
b. Citizenship by Result of Military Service
The standards for citizenship through military service are often viewed as liberal. This is because, under certain conditions, service members are not required to fulfill residency, meet any physical presence requirements or show good character for a set period of time. Instead, service members file for naturalization under one of two scenarios, which each have their own set of guidelines depending on whether they file within the first six months of receiving an honorable discharge, or not.
Under the first scenario where the filing is completed within the first six months, service members must be permanent U.S. residents before filing the application, but need not show residency or physical presence. Under the second scenario where filing is completed after six months, the person must be a permanent U.S. resident and show residence for five years, with military service in the 5 years preceding the application being equivalent to residence.
Service members who served their time to the US during a time of military conflict are also exempt from showing residency and physical presence, but must show good character for at least one year.
3. Naturalization by application
Application is the most popular method for obtaining naturalization. To successfully apply, applicants must meet the following conditions:
* 5 years of continuous residence in the U.S. after one has become a permanent resident, or 3 years of continuous residence if married to a U.S. citizen.
* At least half of permanent residency physically spent in the United States.
* At least 3 months of residence in the jurisdiction where the application is filed.
* Demonstration of good character and attachment to constitutional principles during required permanent residency.
* Basic understanding of English and basic knowledge of U.S. government and history.
The application process can be prohibitive and complex, especially depending on an applicant’s legal record, ideological beliefs, and record of military service. To overcome its pitfalls and expedite its results, consulting with immigration lawyers prior to commencing the application process is the best option.
This article was written by author Seth Thompson on behalf of the immigration lawyers in Denver Colorado that work at Joseph Law Firm, PC.