CITIZENSHIP AND NATURALIZATION

Many Green Card holders can apply for U.S. citizenship through naturalization.

Citizens have many privileges, rights and benefits that Green Card holders do not. These benefits include:

1. You no longer need to renew your Green Card every 10 years and you don’t have to carry your Green Card with you.

2. The risk of deportation is reduced because U.S. citizens who commit a crime cannot be deported.  However, U.S. citizenship can be revoked if USCIS finds out you lied to obtain either your Green Card or your U.S. citizenship.

3.  You can take long trips outside of the United States without the risk of losing your ability to return.

4. A U.S. citizen can petition their spouse and unmarried children under 21 years of age for a Green Card.  They can also petition parents, siblings, and married children to come live in the United States.

5. Any Green Card holding children under 18 can become citizens.

6. You can vote and run for most elected public offices.

7. You may get Federal Jobs, Grants, and other Government Benefits that require U.S. citizenship.

8.  There are better tax and estate options because U.S. citizens and Green Card holders are not treated equally.

9. You will get a U.S. passport and help from U.S. Embassies and Consulates when traveling abroad.

THERE ARE FOUR WAYS TO OBTAIN U.S. CITIZENSHIP
  1. Birth in the U.S.
  2. Naturalization
  3. Derivation
  4. Acquisition
1. CITIZENSHIP BY BIRTH:

The Constitution of the United States guarantees that persons born in the United States receive automatic citizenship.

2. NATURALIZATION:

Green Card holders in the United States become citizens through the Naturalization process.  You may apply for Citizenship through Naturalization if:

  1. You have been a permanent resident for at least 5 years and have maintained physical presence in the U.S; OR
  2. A permanent resident for 3 years or more and meet all eligibility requirements to file as a spouse of a U.S. citizen; AND
  3. You are at least 18 years old, AND
  4. You can read, write, speak and understand basic English (with some exceptions), AND
  5. You know basic American history and understand how the U.S. government works (with some exceptions).

A Green Card holder that meets these basic requirements is likely eligible to Naturalize and become a U.S. citizen.  However, even if you do not meet requirements 3 or 4 above, you may still be able to Naturalize.

Call us and speak to an immigration lawyer that can help you.

3. DERIVATION:

A child can automatically become a U.S. citizen through derivation if one of the child’s parents is a U.S. citizen.  For example, a minor child has a Green Card and lives in the United States with at least one U.S. citizen parent can become a citizen by derivation.  The child’s parent can be a citizen either by birth or by Naturalization.  However, citizenship through derivation does not apply if the United States citizen parent is a stepparent.

4. ACQUISITION:

A child born outside the United States to a U.S. citizen parent can automatically acquire U.S. citizenship.  In order to acquire citizenship, the following conditions must be met on or after February 27, 2001:

  • He or she has at least one parent, including an adoptive parent, who is a U.S. citizen by birth or through Naturalization;
  • The child is under 18 years of age and unmarried;
  • He or she is a lawful permanent resident (Green Card holder); and
  • The child is living in the United States under the legal and physical custody of the U.S. citizen parent.
  • Note that a stepchild who has not been legally adopted does not qualify.
CERTIFICATE OF CITIZENSHIP:

A Certificate of Citizenship is issued to derivative citizens and to persons who acquired U.S. citizenship.  An immigration lawyer can file an application for your Certificate of Citizenship if:

  1. You were born outside of the U.S. to a U.S. citizen parent (derivation) or,
  2. You automatically became a U.S. citizen after birth, but before you turned 18 years of age (acquisition), as described above.

The laws that govern birth citizenship have changed a lot over the years.  Much of it depends on the date of birth of the child and the laws that were in effect at that time.  Other factors can also complicate your eligibility.

No matter what our situation, our experienced immigration attorneys can help.  If you want to become a citizen of the United States, call us today for an initial consultation at (407) 818-1244 or click here.

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