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When Will an Immigrant Be Eligible for U.S. Citizenship?

 Posted on February 15, 2023 in Immigration

Plano Citizenship Lawyer

People from other countries who wish to permanently resettle in the United States may encounter difficulties as they navigate the immigration process, and understanding the rules and regulations that govern eligibility for citizenship is not always easy. The path to becoming a naturalized citizen is long and complex, but understanding the basic eligibility requirements can help make the process easier and more straightforward.

A Guide to Eligibility for U.S. Citizenship

People who are born within the United States will automatically be considered to be citizens. Children born to U.S. citizens abroad will also usually be able to receive citizenship as long as their parents or grandparents meet certain residency requirements. Others who wish to become citizens will usually need to complete the naturalization process. Naturalization will be available to people who are at least 18 years old and who meet other requirements, including:

  • Legal Status - The first and most important factor in determining whether an immigrant is eligible for U.S. citizenship is their legal status in the country. Generally speaking, immigrants must have lawful permanent resident status and a valid Green Card in order to qualify for naturalization. Permanent residence status is typically obtained through either family-based immigration or employment-based immigration, but it can also be acquired through certain humanitarian programs, such as asylum or refugee status. 

  • Length of Residence - Immigrants must meet certain residency requirements before being eligible for naturalization. In most cases, an applicant must have been living in the United States as a lawful permanent resident for at least five years prior to applying for citizenship, although this requirement may be reduced to three years if they are married to and living with a U.S. citizen.

  • Physical Presence - In addition to maintaining lawful permanent resident status for the applicable period of time, a person will also need to show that they have actually been in the United States for most of that period. Time spent outside of the United States during this period may affect eligibility or add delays to the naturalization process. In general, a person must not have been outside of the U.S. for 30 months or more during the five years in which they have been a lawful permanent resident. Spouses of U.S. citizens must not have spent more than 18 months outside of the country during their three-year residency period.

  • Other Requirements - There are several other criteria that applicants must meet before becoming eligible for naturalization, including passing a civics test on American history and government (unless they are otherwise exempt) and demonstrating good moral character throughout their residency period. Applicants must also demonstrate basic English language proficiency by taking an English language exam unless they qualify for an exemption due to age or disability.

Contact Our Plano Citizenship Lawyer

If you are planning to become a U.S. citizen, you will need to be sure you meet the specific criteria under the immigration laws of the United States. Understanding these eligibility requirements can help you prepare to apply for citizenship, and by completing the naturalization process, you can gain the many benefits that come with being a citizen of the United States. If you have questions about issues related to citizenship, contact our Dallas naturalization attorney at 214-295-3014. We can provide you with a free consultation, and we can assist you during the application process.


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