To apply you must be 18 years of age or older, have had permanent residence for at least 5 years and have a good moral character. If you have been married to a U.S. citizen for 3 years and have had residence for at least 3 years and you have been living with your spouse during this time, then you are eligible to apply. The interview will be conducted in English unless an applicant is over 50 and has had permanent residence for 20 years, then he/she may have the examination conducted in his/her language. If the applicant is over 55 and has been a permanent resident for 15 years, he/she will be entitled to the language exemption too. Applicants who are over 65 with 20 years of permanent residence may receive special consideration on the civics exam. Out of a test of 25 questions in the applicant’s own language, the applicant need only correctly answer 10 out of the 25 civics questions. A medical disability waiver may also be granted from the English language and civics exam.
A spouse or child who received permanent residence because of extreme cruelty is entitled to apply for naturalization after having permanent residence for 3 years. To be eligible for citizenship, you also need to prove physical presence in the U.S. for l/2 of the 5 years, or l/2 of the 3 years if you are the spouse of a U.S. citizen. You also must have resided in the State where you apply for at least 3 months. If you have been outside the U.S. for more than 6 months at one time within the required residence requirement, you must rebut the presumption that you abandoned your permanent residence.
GOOD MORAL CHARACTER
You must have been a person of good moral character during the requisite residence period. False testimony or a crime will bar naturalization unless it was for a petty offense resulting in a sentence of fewer than 6 months. Failing willfully to register with Selective Service between the ages of 18 and 26 could result in a bar to citizenship unless adequately explained.
OATH OF ALLEGIANCE
The applicant must take an Oath of Allegiance to the U.S. or a modified oath based on
deeply held religious or moral grounds regarding a willingness to bear arms for the U.S.
FILING OF APPLICATION
An application (N-400) must be filed together with a copy of the Permanent Resident Card, two color passport like photos and other supporting documents, such as Internal Revenue filings over the necessary residence period; and also if married to a U.S. citizen, proof of the citizen’s birth or naturalization and proof of the marriage and copies of previous divorces. Applications may be filed 3 months prior to completion of the required residence time. Before the interview, the Immigration Service must obtain an FBI report. If after the interview the Immigration Service fails and/or refuses to make a decision within 120 days, an applicant may appeal to the U.S. District Court for relief. When an applicant has been naturalized after the swearing in, the applicant is immediately eligible to receive a U.S. passport.
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