Start the Path to Become an American Citizen
Deciding to become an American citizen is no easy decision. It is the beginning of a new life and identity. It is the start of a journey through immigration laws and regulations. Although our citizenship attorneys from Brown Immigration Law can’t decide your identity for you, we can help you make sense of all the legal paperwork that needs to be done correctly for you to become an official citizen through naturalization.
At Brown Immigration Law, we have a large team of immigration attorneys from a variety of different backgrounds and practice area focuses. We can work collectively to handle any immigration case, including the most complex citizenship cases and petitions. If you have any questions and concerns, then you already know that we have answers and solutions.
On This Page:
- What is Citizenship
- The Difference Between Citizenship & Naturalization
- Benefits of Becoming a U.S. Citizen
- Citizenship Eligibility Requirements
- What Is The Process For Applying For U.S. Citizenship?
- What is the Naturalization Test & Oath of Allegiance?
- Birthright & Derivative Citizenship
- Legal Help to Obtain Citizenship
What is Citizenship?
Citizenship in the United States is a legal status that grants certain rights, privileges, and responsibilities to individuals who are recognized as members of the country. It is the highest legal status that a person can attain within the United States and carries both benefits and obligations.
The Difference Between Citizenship & Naturalization
There are two primary ways to become a U.S. citizen. The first is by birthright, meaning anyone born within the territory of the United States is automatically a U.S. citizen, regardless of the nationality or immigration status of their parents. The second way is through a process called naturalization, which allows eligible immigrants to become citizens after meeting certain requirements.
Birthright citizenship, also known as jus soli, is a foundational principle in the United States. It grants automatic U.S. citizenship to anyone born within the territorial boundaries of the United States, including its states and territories, regardless of the nationality, immigration status, or citizenship of their parents. This principle is enshrined in the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which was adopted in 1868 after the Civil War.
The key criterion for birthright citizenship is being physically born within the geographical boundaries of the United States. This includes births that occur in hospitals, homes, or other locations within U.S. territory.
On the other hand, naturalization is the process by which eligible immigrants become U.S. citizens. To be eligible, individuals typically need to meet certain requirements, which may include:
- Being a lawful permanent resident (green card holder) for a specified period, usually five years (or three years for spouses of U.S. citizens).
- Demonstrating good moral character during the required residency period.
Having continuous residency in the U.S. and being physically present in the country for a certain portion of that time.
- Passing an English language and U.S. government and history test, unless exempt due to age or disability.
- Taking an oath of allegiance to the United States.
Eligible individuals must apply for naturalization by submitting an application, attending an interview with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and passing the required tests and background checks.
Once approved, applicants attend a naturalization ceremony, where they take the Oath of Allegiance to the United States. This oath marks the final step in the naturalization process and formalizes their U.S. citizenship.
Hiring an immigration lawyer like us at Brown Immigration Law for the naturalization process in Florida offers numerous benefits:
- Expertise and Experience: When you work with us, you tap into our in-depth knowledge of U.S. immigration laws, regulations, and policies. Our extensive experience in handling naturalization cases means we understand the intricacies of the process.
- Personalized Guidance: We provide tailored legal advice based on your unique circumstances. Our team can assess your eligibility for naturalization, address any potential challenges, and create a strategy to navigate your specific situation effectively.
- Efficient Document Handling: We help you compile and complete the required forms, supporting documentation, and evidence accurately and efficiently. Our attention to detail ensures that all paperwork is filed correctly and on time.
Interview Preparation: As part of our services, we prepare you thoroughly for the interview with USCIS officers. We'll help you understand the types of questions you may encounter and how to respond confidently.
- Language and Civics Test Assistance: If you're required to take the English language and U.S. government and history test, we offer comprehensive support, including study materials and guidance, to help you succeed.
- Response to Requests for Evidence (RFEs): If USCIS requests additional information or documents, we'll assist you in crafting a persuasive and thorough response to ensure the continuity of your application.
- Problem Resolution: In the event of issues or complications, such as legal concerns or previous immigration violations, we'll work with you to address these challenges effectively, finding viable solutions.
- Appeal Representation: Should your naturalization application be denied, we will represent you in filing appeals or legal actions to contest the decision and seek reconsideration.
- Minimizing Errors: We take great care to minimize any errors or omissions on your application, reducing the risk of delays or denials that can result from mistakes.
- Peace of Mind: With us by your side, you can navigate the naturalization process with confidence and peace of mind. Knowing that you have experienced legal representation helps alleviate the stress and uncertainty often associated with immigration procedures.
Benefits of Becoming a U.S. Citizen
When you become a U.S. citizen, it is not just a simple title change. Citizens can enjoy various benefits that other immigrants and non-immigrants do not. Even if you are currently a lawful permanent resident (LPR) who can renew your green card indefinitely, you can still take advantage of benefits available only through official citizenship.
After becoming a citizen, you will get these immigration and civil rights benefits:
- Can sponsor family members to come to the U.S.
- Cannot be targeted for deportation.
- Gain the right to vote in state and federal elections.
- Allowed to travel in and out of the country with far fewer restrictions.
- Obtain new civic duties such as serving on a jury.
- Ability to work for more government entities than before.
- File for certain government and public benefits.
- Run of state and federal offices that were once unavailable.
Citizenship Eligibility Requirements
Now that you know the benefits of becoming a U.S. citizen, you might be understandably eager to become one. Not everyone who wants to become a citizen can, though, due to restrictions with immigration law. When you hire us to handle your citizenship case, we will start by determining your eligibility and discuss the next steps based on our assessment.
To become a citizen, you must meet many requirements, including:
- Must be 18 or older – unless you are a minor who was adopted by a U.S. citizen.
- Must be considered a person of “upright moral character.”
- Must be able to speak, write, and read English.
- Must have a general familiarity with U.S. history and government policies.
- Must have lived in the U.S. continuously for at least 5 years without any significant time out of the country.
- Must stay within the U.S. for 30 consecutive months before filing for citizenship.
- Must have lived in the state in which you are filing for at least three months before filing.
- Must have not committed certain serious crimes that can void eligibility.
What Is The Process For Applying For U.S. Citizenship?
The process for applying for U.S. citizenship, also known as naturalization, typically involves the following steps:
- Determine eligibility: Review the eligibility requirements to ensure you meet the necessary criteria, such as being at least 18 years old, holding lawful permanent resident status (green card) for a certain period of time, and demonstrating good moral character.
- Prepare Form N-400: Complete and submit Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, along with the required supporting documents, such as your green card, identification documents, and any applicable fees.
- Biometrics appointment: After submitting your application, you will receive a notice for a biometrics appointment. At this appointment, your fingerprints, photograph, and signature will be taken for background checks.
- Attend the interview: Once your application is processed, you will be scheduled for an interview with a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officer. During the interview, you will be asked questions about your application, background, and knowledge of U.S. civics and English language skills.
- Take the citizenship test: As part of the naturalization process, you will need to take the citizenship test, which includes an English language and civics exam. The exam tests your understanding of U.S. history, government, and basic English language proficiency.
- Oath ceremony: If your application is approved, you will be scheduled to attend an oath ceremony. At the ceremony, you will take an oath of allegiance to the United States, officially becoming a U.S. citizen.
It's important to note that the naturalization process can vary depending on individual circumstances, and there may be additional requirements or steps involved. Consulting with an experienced immigration attorney is recommended to ensure a thorough understanding of the process and to receive personalized guidance throughout the application process.
What is the Naturalization Test & Oath of Allegiance?
When applying for citizenship, you might be required to take a naturalization test. During this test, you will be tested on basic questions regarding U.S. history and government policies, as well as your ability to communicate in English. The number of times you can take the naturalization test per citizenship petition can be limited to two, so it is important to thoroughly study for the test.
Citizenship applicants might be exempt from taking the naturalization test for these reasons:
- 50 or older and live in the U.S. as an LPR for at least 20 years.
- 55 or older and live in the U.S. as an LPR for at least 15 years.
- Medical conditions or learning difficulties would make passing the test unjustifiably difficult.
Once you complete and pass your naturalization test, you will also be asked to take an “oath of allegiance” to the United States. In effect, this oath requires you to commit yourself to be a productive citizen of good moral standing. Essentially, promise to be a good person, and United States Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) will be more likely to welcome you as a naturalized citizen.
Birthright & Derivative Citizenship
In special circumstances, citizenship can be granted without the typical citizenship petition and steps as detailed above. Birthright citizenship is given to anyone who is born in the United States or a recognized U.S. territory. It can also be granted to a child who is born outside of the U.S. but to American citizens.
Derivative citizenship can be given to a child if their parents are officially naturalized themselves. Certain adoptions of non-citizen children by American parents can grant derivative citizenship as well.
Legal Help to Obtain Citizenship
Make the task of becoming a U.S. citizen less intimidating by teaming up with Brown Immigration Law. Our citizenship attorneys are here to walk you through this important legal process. When our work is done, we hope you will be enjoying all the benefits of being a U.S. citizen, so you and your family can start the next exciting chapter of your lives!