United States Citizenship through Naturalization
Citizenship in the United States of America means different things to different people. It can be a dream for some or a realistically attainable goal for others. Our mission at Gamino Law Offices is to be the best US immigration law firm in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. To this end, our US immigration lawyer works hard to make US citizenship through naturalization a reality for our clients. Contact us to learn how our immigration attorneys in Milwaukee can help you or your family become United States citizens.
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FAQ: United States Naturalization and Citizenship
- What are the benefits of United States citizenship?
- How does someone become a US citizen?
- Who is born a United States citizen?
- What are the eligibility requirements to apply for naturalization?
- How can I apply for citizenship for my child?
- If I meet the eligibility requirements, are there any reasons I could be denied United States Citizenship through Naturalization?
- If my application is denied can I reapply for naturalization?
Answers to questions about US naturalization and citizenship
Why should I become a United States citizen?
The United States is a land of immigrants seeking a better way of life. Of course, the laws of the United States and the rights guaranteed by the Constitution generally protect anyone living in the US. The United States laws protect everyone, whether you are a citizen or non-citizen. However, the law reserves some rights for citizens. The rights that specifically attach to citizens include:
- priority when bringing family members to the United States as immigrants
- the promise of automatic citizenship for their children and descendants
- the right to vote
- the ability to hold many elected offices
- the assistance of the United States government when traveling abroad
- eligibility for employment with United States federal government agencies.
If you have questions about whether becoming a United States citizen through naturalization is the best option for you, the lawyers at our immigration law firm in Milwaukee, Wisconsin can give you guidance. If you need immigration assistance in Wisconsin, our immigration lawyers can assess your best path to obtain US citizenship.
What are the ways to obtain citizenship in the United States?
You can become a United States citizen in two ways. The first way is by birth. The second way is through naturalization.
Who qualifies for United States citizenship by birth?
- If you were born in the United States or a US territory: most people are US citizens at birth.
- If you were born abroad: Most people born abroad to two United States citizen parents are US citizens if one of your parents lived in the United States at some time. However, if only one parent is a United States citizen then things are a little more complicated. Specifically, most people born abroad to one United States citizen are US citizens if all of the following are true:
- one of the parents was a US citizen at the time of birth
- the US citizen parent lived in the United States for at least 5 years at some time before the birth of the child
- at least 2 of the 5 years the parent with United States citizenship lived in the United States occurred after the parent’s 14th birthday.
Who is eligible to become a naturalized US citizen?
Eligibility for an adult over age 18 to naturalize and gain United States citizenship depends on a variety of factors. Factors that affect eligibility to naturalize as a US citizen may include the following:
- time as a United States permanent resident
- 5 years of continuous residence in the United States as a permanent resident. If naturalizing based on marriage to a US citizen, or for someone who became a lawful permanent resident based on certain acts of domestic violence, the requirement can be reduced to 3 years.
- physical presence in the United States for half of the 5 year or 3 year period preceding the filing of the naturalization application
- 3 months in a USCIS district or State
- continuous residence in the United States from the time you filed the application until admission to citizenship
- no absences from the United States for a year or longer at one time (some exceptions apply to this requirement)
- being a person of good moral character
- have sufficient understanding and use of basic English (exceptions based on age and length of permanent residency or disability)
- have sufficient knowledge of basic United States history and principles of government (exceptions based on age and length of permanent residency or disability)
- registration with the Selective Service System (for males under age 26)
- service in the U.S. armed forces
- swear to renounce foreign allegiances, support the Constitution of the United Staes, and serve the United States by taking an Oath of Allegiance to the United States
How can my child become a citizen?
Your child may be a United States citizen if he or she was born in the United States. Alternatively, your child may be a US citizen if your child was born abroad to a US citizen. Generally, children born to a US citizen abroad are citizens if, prior to the birth, the parent lived in the US for the required period of time. However, if your child is born abroad to a US citizen who did not live in the United States for the required period of time before the child was born, your child may be eligible to become a citizen. Likewise, if your child is born to parents who became naturalized US citizens after the child’s birth, your child may be eligible to become a citizen.
Your child would be eligible for US citizenship while the child is under age 18 and unmarried, once the following occur:
- he or she obtains lawful admission to the United States for permanent residence
- one or both parents are US citizens by birth or naturalization
- and the child resides in the United States in the legal and physical custody of his or her US citizen parent, if the
- child does not regularly reside in the United States the child may still be a citizen if the citizen parent has lived in the United States for at least 5 years, at least 2 of which were after the parent’s 14th birthday, or
- citizen parent did not live in the United States for at least 5 years, 2 of which were after the parent’s 14th birthday, then if the child’s grandparent is a US citizen who lived in the United States for at least 5 years where at least 2 were after the grandparent’s 14th birthday
- if adopted:
- the adoption is final and was finalized before the child’s 16th birthday, and
- the child was in the legal and physical custody of the adopting parent(s) for at least 2 years or the child was an orphan
- if the citizenship is derived through the father:
- the child was the father’s legitimate child born in wedlock or was legitimized before the child’s 16th birthday.
How could my application for naturalization be denied if I met the eligibility requirements?
If the government deported you or ordered you removed from the United States you lose eligibility for naturalization. However, an exception exists for some who the government deported or ordered removed to obtain eligibility to naturalize through service in the Armed Forces. Similarly, if you have committed a minor crime your application could be denied if you do not tell the USCIS officer about the incident. However, a minor crime does not include traffic incidents with a fine under $500, that did not involve alcohol or drugs, and where the police did not arrest you. Furthermore, if the government finds you were untruthful in your applications or during an interview, your application for naturalization will be denied and/or citizenship may be revoked.
Other bars to naturalization include the following:
- affiliation or membership in the communist party or an organization opposed to organized government
- membership or affiliation with an organization that sanctions the use of force against the government
- desertion from the US military forces or having claimed an exemption based on being a foreign alien
- commission of an aggravated felony.
What happens if my naturalization application is denied, and can I reapply?
If your naturalization application is denied you can appeal. However, if you want to appeal, you must file the appeal within 30 days after you receive the denial letter. Specifically, filing an appeal within the deadline gives you a hearing with an immigration officer on your naturalization proceedings decision. If you do not appeal or if you lose the appeal you can nevertheless reapply in most cases. However, to reapply you must complete a new application for naturalization, pay the fee, and provide new fingerprints and photograph. If you failed the English exam or the civics exam, in particular, which resulted in denial of your application, you may reapply as soon as you believe you will pass the exams.
Finally, contact US immigration lawyers at our law firm in Milwaukee who are available to assist you with any of your Wisconsin immigration law needs today. Also, visit our US Immigration Resources Page for more information.