Knowing the US Citizenship Requirements
Many U.S. residents living in New York decide to become naturalized U.S. citizens. Citizenship comes with multiple benefits and additional rights that lawful permanent residents don’t enjoy, including the right to vote in federal elections, serve in political office, and others. Unlike naturalized U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents could also face deportation and removal proceedings. If you want to become a naturalized U.S. citizen, here is what you need to know from a New York immigration lawyer at Oltarsh & Associates.
US Citizenship Requirements
To become a naturalized U.S. citizen, you must meet the following eligibility criteria unless you apply based on serving in the U.S. military or qualify for an exemption:
1. Minimum Age Requirement
To apply to become a naturalized U.S. citizen, you must be at least age 18. However, you can be at any age if you are applying based on serving in the military during a wartime period.
2. Continuous, Physical Presence in the U.S.
After you get your green card, you must continuously live in the U.S. for a minimum of five years or three years if your green card was based on your marriage to a U.S. citizen. You can’t have taken trips outside of the country lasting six or more months during those five years. If your application is based on your service in the U.S. military, you won’t need to meet the continuous and physical presence requirement. You can submit your application for naturalization as soon as 90 days before your waiting period is finished.
You can take short trips of less than six months during your five or three-year waiting period. However, to demonstrate physical presence, you must have physically been present in the U.S. for a minimum of 913 days if you have a five-year waiting period or a minimum of 548 days if you have a three-year waiting period.
3. Residency Requirement
You must have lived in the state or district where you submit your naturalization application for a minimum of three months before applying. If you move after you file your application, notify the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) within 10 days to provide them with your new address.
4. Have a Good Moral Character
Naturalization applicants are required to have good moral character, which means that you must have a character that meets the standards expected of average citizens. Some of the factors that are considered include the following:
- Not committing certain types of criminal offenses during the waiting period
- Being honest during your naturalization interview
- Not having two or more convictions for drunk driving during the waiting period and until the Oath of Allegiance
5. Have English Language Proficiency and Knowledge About Civics
Applicants for naturalization are required to take and pass a naturalization test. This exam includes two parts. The first evaluates your ability to read, write, and speak English. The second evaluates your knowledge about U.S. civics, including U.S. history and how the government works. Certain applicants are exempt from one or both of these tests.
6. Register for the Selective Service
If you are a male between the ages of 18 and 26, you will be required to register with the U.S. Selective Service. You won’t have to register if you are a female, are older than 26, didn’t live in the U.S. between ages 18 and 26, or did but under a different legal status other than as a green card holder.
You can register for the Selective Service online, at the post office, or by mail. Once you are registered, the Selective Service will send you an acknowledgment card as proof of your registration.
7. Allegiance to the U.S.
To become a naturalized U.S. citizen, you will be required to show your attachment to the U.S. Constitution, which means that you support, believe in, and will defend its principles, accept the democratic process, and will obey the law. You will demonstrate your attachment during your swearing-in ceremony. During it, you will be asked to recite the Oath of Allegiance. This is the final step of the naturalization process. Once you complete it, you can become a naturalized U.S. citizen.
Talk to a New York Immigration Lawyer
Becoming a naturalized U.S. citizen is exciting for most people. Now that you’ve read through the U.S. citizenship requirements, you should contact a New York immigration lawyer at Oltarsh & Associates. If you have questions about your eligibility based on any of these requirements, we can help you understand whether you qualify. We can also help you complete and submit your citizenship application and all of the supporting documents. Call us today to schedule an appointment at (212) 944-9420.