Our law firm appreciates the opportunity to help you complete and file your N-400 application, prepare for the naturalization test and interview, and accompany you to the interview.
1. Generally, you need to be a lawful permanent resident of the U.S. for 5 years, or 3 years if married to a U.S. citizen for at least 3 years. Those who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces may be able to Naturalize sooner.
2. Be physically present in the U.S. for over half of the required residency period.
3. Possess good moral character.
4. Willing to pledge allegiance to the U.S.
5. Generally, be able to read, write, and speak in English language. Certain exceptions are allowed.
6. Pass the naturalization test on U.S. history and government
There are exceptions and modifications to the naturalization requirements and citizenship test that are available to those who qualify. There are also accommodations for individuals with disabilities.
English Language Exemption for Naturalization
You Are Exempt From The English Language Requirement, But Are Still Required To Take The Civics Test If You Are:
Age 50 or older at the time of filing for naturalization and have lived as a permanent resident (green card holder) in the United States for 20 years (commonly referred to as the “50/20” exception).
Age 55 or older at the time of filing for naturalization and have lived as a permanent resident in the United States for 15 years (commonly referred to as the “55/15” exception).
Even if you qualify for the “50/20” or “55/15” English language exceptions listed above, you must still take the civics test.
You will be permitted to take the civics test in your native language.
If you take the test in your native language, you must bring an interpreter with you to your interview.
Your interpreter must be fluent in both English and your native language.
If you are age 65 or older and have been a permanent resident for at least 20 years at the time of filing your application for naturalization, you will be given special consideration regarding the civics requirement.
Medical Disability Exceptions to English and Civics
You may be eligible for an exception to the English and civics naturalization requirements if you are unable to comply with these requirements because of a physical or developmental disability or a mental impairment. Our office would be happy to help you to request this exception, and work with your doctor on completion and submission of Certificate for Disablity Exceptions form N-648 on your behalf. (This form must be completed by a licensed medical or osteopathic doctor, or licensed clinical psychologist.)
Continuous Residence Exceptions
If you are engaged in certain kinds of overseas employment you may be eligible for an exception to the continuous residence requirement.
Certain accommodations or modifications may be available for applicants with physical or mental impairments that make it difficult for them to complete the naturalization process. Please contact our office if you need to discuss this topic in more detail.
Oath of Allegiance
After applying for naturalization and in order to be naturalized, you must take an oath of allegiance in a public ceremony. The law allows for certain modifications to the Oath of Allegiance.
Citizenship for Military Members
Members and certain veterans of the U.S. armed forces may be eligible for naturalization through their military service under Section 328 or 329 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Additionally, the INA provides for posthumous naturalization under section 329A
General Requirements & Exceptions
The general requirements for naturalization may be diminished or waived for qualifying service member. Qualifying military service is generally in the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, and certain components of the National Guard and the Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve.
Naturalization through One Year of Qualifying Service During “Peacetime”
Generally, a person who has served honorably in the U.S. armed forces at any time may be eligible to apply for naturalization under section 328 of the INA. The military community sometimes refers to this as “peacetime naturalization.”In general, an applicant for naturalization under Section 328 of the INA must:
Naturalization through Qualifying Service during Periods of Hostilities
Generally, members of the U.S. armed forces who serve honorably for any period of time (even 1 day) during specifically designated periods of hostilities (see below) are eligible for naturalization under section 329 of the INA through such military service.In general, an applicant for naturalization under INA 329 must:
There is no minimum age requirement for an applicant under this section. The designated periods of hostilities are:
The current designated period of hostilities starting on September 11, 2001, will terminate when the President issues an Executive Order terminating the period.Note: current members of the U.S. armed forces who qualify for naturalization under sections 328 or 329 of the INA can proceed with their naturalization application either in the United States or overseas.
Spouses of U.S. citizen members of the U.S. armed forces (service members) may be eligible for expedited or overseas naturalization. Children of service members may also be eligible for overseas naturalization.
Expedited Naturalization for Spouses of Military Members
Spouses of U.S. citizen service members who are (or will be) deployed may be eligible for expedited naturalization in the United States under section 319(b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). To apply for naturalization under section 319(b) of the INA, you generally must:
Overseas Naturalization for Spouses of Military Members
Certain eligible spouses of service members can naturalize abroad under section 319(e) of the INA without traveling to the United States for any part of the naturalization process. These spouses can also count qualifying residence abroad as residence and physical presence in the U.S. for purposes of naturalization. In general, to be eligible for naturalization abroad under section 319(e) of the INA, you must:
Overseas Naturalization for Children of Military Members
Certain eligible children of service members can become naturalized U.S. citizens under section 322 of the INA without having to travel to the United States for any part of the naturalization process. Under section 322 of the INA, a parent who is a U.S. citizen (or, if the citizen parent has died during the preceding 5 years, a citizen grandparent or citizen legal guardian) may apply for naturalization on behalf of a child born outside of the United States who has not acquired citizenship automatically under section 320 of the INA. The general requirements are that:
A child of a member of the U.S. armed forces who is abroad with the service member pursuant to official orders is not required to be present in the United States pursuant to a lawful admission. In addition, the child may count any period of time of residence abroad on official orders as physical presence in the United States.
Relatives of U.S. Citizen Military Members
If you are the spouse, child, or parent of a U.S. citizen who died as a result of combat while serving in active duty status in the U.S. armed forces, you may be eligible for immigration benefits as an “immediate relative” for up to 2 years after your service member relative’s death.Additionally, a surviving spouse, child, or parent of such service members may be eligible for naturalization as the surviving relative of the service member under Section 319(d) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). You will be considered an immediate relative for immigration purposes provided:
. You will be considered an immediate relative for immigration purposes provided:
The spouse, child, or parent of a deceased U.S. citizen member of the U.S. armed forces (service member) who died as the result of his or her honorable service, including a service member granted posthumous citizenship, and who, in the case of a surviving spouse, was living in marital union with the citizen service member spouse at the time of his or her death, may be eligible for naturalization as the surviving relative of the service member under Section 319(d) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).The surviving spouse, child, or parent must meet the general naturalization requirements, except for the residence or physical presence requirements in the United States. Note: If you were the spouse of the deceased service member, you must not have been legally separated at the time of his or her death. However, you remain eligible for naturalization under this provision even if you have remarried since the service member’s death.
Jagat Kooner, Esq. Admitted to Minnesota Bar. Authorized to Practice Immigration and Nationality Law in All 50 States and US Territories Pursuant to 8 USC 1292.1. Law practice in California limited exclusively to immigration law. Our office does not provide legal advice on California or any other state law.