Naturalization - Citizenship

Are you eligible to become a United States Citizen? General Requirements

Naturalization is the procedure for an lawful permanent resident (green card holder) to become a US Citizen. There are three major avenues to become a U.S. citizen: (1) a green card holder who has been a permanent resident for at least five (5) years (or 3 years in some instances); (2) through serving in the United State Military (U.S. Armed Forces); and (3) citizenship through parents.

A green card holder who has been a permanent resident for at least five (5) years (or 3 years in some instances)

These are the basic requirements for naturalization:
  1. Must have five (5) years of "continuous lawful residence" in the United States immediately prior to the naturalization application (three years if the application is based on marriage to US Citizen and the parties are still currently married OR four years if the application is based on asylum),
  2. Must be "physically present" in the U.S. for at least thirty (30) months within the five year period before applying OR physically present in the U.S. for eighteen (18) months within the three year period before applying in the case of qualified spouses of U.S. citizens (with a few exceptions such as military)
  3. Must speak, read, and write basic English,
  4. Must be familiar with US civics and history,
  5. Must have "good moral character," and
  6. Must file naturalization application in the State where you continously resided for the last 3 months.
If you are looking for affordable immigration attorneys with experience, dedication, and understanding, call us today at 405.600.9910. Free consultation available.

The "continuous lawful residence" requirements does not require physical presence within the United States for the whole 5-year term. Rather, the applicant must be physically present within the US for at least half of the term (2.5 years). Trips to outside the US for less than 6 months will not break the continuity of residence requirement; however, an year long absence will break the continuity of residence requirement. Trips of 6 months to 1 year is presumed to break the continuity requirement, but it can be rebutted by submitting proof that you did not abandon your permanent resident status. This can often be difficult, so please call us for a free consultation to help resolve this matter.

The English language proficiency requirement may be excused if the applicant is (1) physically or mentally disabled or (2) at least 50 years old and remained a lawful permanent resident (LPR) for at least 20 years or (3)at least 55 years old and has been a permanent resident for at least 15 years. If you are not excused from the English or History and Civics test, we strongly urge you to study before your interview date. Please visit the USCIS website for study material.

The good moral character requirement requires you not to be a habitual drunkard, engage in illegal gambling, not commit an aggravated felony, among other things.

Common Problems Preventing Individuals from Obtaining Citizenship

Criminal Convictions is most likely the most common reason most individuals are denied their N-400 Citizenship Application. In most cases, individuals have been convicted of several crimes that may not be deportable offenses. However, criminal convictions will most likely result in a finding of "bad moral character" which is why your application will be denied. Under the INA, USCIS officers are required to look back five (5) years from the date of application for your criminal history. However, the officers have discretion to look past 5 year if he or she chooses to do so. In many instances, an individual may just have to wait 5 years then re-apply for citizenship. Please keep in mind that if the biometrics (FBI background check) yields a deportable offense for which you have been convicted, you may be placed in deportation or removal proceedings. If you have any criminal convictions, please contact our office before applying for your N-400 Application for Naturalization.

Owing Federal or State taxes is another major reason that individuals are denied his or her citizenship application. If you owe any federal or state taxes, it is best to resolve the situation before applying for naturalization. We can help you resolve these issues through our Debt Solutions Law Center services. Worst case scenario, we will attempt to put you on a payment plan with the IRS or the State so that it will not affect your naturalization application. If you owe any taxes, please contact our office before applying for naturalization.

Having an expired Permanent Resident card is another reason that persons are denied citizenship. You must have a valid and unexpired Permanent Resident card prior to applying for naturalization. If your Permanent Resident card is expiring or has already expired, please file a form I-90 to renew your permanent resident card before applying. Do not apply until you receive your new Permanent Resident card

If any of these common problems apply to you or you are worried about the physical presence requirements or any other problems, please feel free to call us at (405) 600-9910 for a free consultation.

Service in the United States Military

Under Section 328 and 329 of the Immigration and Nationality Act ("INA"), members of the U.S. Armed Forces may be entitled to obtain citizenship through his or her service in the Armed Forces. For more information, to see whether you qualify through Armed Forces service, Citizenship through Armed Forces page.

Citizenship Acquired through Birth

For children born abroad to a U.S. citizen father or mother or both, you may have acquired citizenship through birt. For more information, please visit our Citizenship Acquired through Birth.