Citizenship and Naturalization
- You do not have to renew your Green Card every 10 years. You do not need to carry your Green card with you.
- The risk of deportation is reduced. U.S. citizens who commit a crime cannot be removed. However, you should know that U.S. citizenship can be revoked if USCIS finds out you lied to obtain either your Green Card or your U.S. citizenship.
- You can take long trips outside of the United States without the risk of losing your ability to return.
- You can petition your spouse and unmarried children under 21 years of age. You can also petition parents, siblings, and married children to come live in the United Sates.
- Your Green Card holding children under 18 can become citizens.
- You can vote and run for most elected public offices.
- You can get Federal Jobs, Grants, and other Government Benefits that require U.S. citizenship.
- You will have better tax and estate benefits. U.S. citizens and Green Card holders are not treated equally. Speak to a Certified Public Accountant if you have questions.
- You will get a U.S. passport and assistance from U.S. Embassies and Consulates when traveling to other countries.
There are four ways to obtain U.S. citizenship:
- Citizenship by birth in the U.S.
- Citizenship through naturalization
- Citizenship through derivation
- Citizenship through acquisition
- a. Citizenship by Birth: Persons born in the United States receive automatic citizenship.
- b. Naturalization: Most immigrants in the United States become citizens through the naturalization process. You may apply for Citizenship through naturalization process if:
- You have been a permanent resident for at least 5 years, and have maintained physical presence in the U.S.
- You have been a permanent resident for 3 years or more and meet all eligibility requirements to file as a spouse of a U.S. citizen.
- You are at least 18 years old.
- You are able to read, write, speak and understand basic English.
- You know the history and understand how the U.S. government works.
- c. Derivation: Citizenship through derivation is when a child automatically becomes a U.S. citizen on the basis of the parent’s U.S. citizenship. This is often the case where a lawful permanent resident child under 18 years of age resides in the U.S. with at least one U.S. citizen parent. The parent may be a citizen by birth or by naturalization. This also depends on child’s date of birth and the law in effect before the child turned 18 years old. Derivation of citizenship does not apply if the United States citizen parent is a stepparent.
- d. Acquisition: Automatic acquisition of citizenship after birth is when a child born outside of the United States automatically becomes a U.S. citizen. In order to acquire citizenship after birth, all of the following conditions have to be met on or after February 27, 2001:
- The child has at least one parent, including an adoptive parentwho is a U.S. citizen by birth or through naturalization;
- The child is under 18 years of age and unmarried;
- The child is a lawful permanent resident (LPR);and
- The child is residing in the U.S. in the legal and physical custody of the U.S. citizen parent.
- A stepchild who has not been adopted does not qualify for citizenship under this provision.
Certificate of Citizenship:
A Certificate of Citizenship is issued to derivative citizens and to persons who acquired U.S. citizenship. You should file an application for a Certificate of Citizenship if:
- You were born outside of the U.S. to a U.S. citizen parent (derivation) or,
- You automatically became a citizen of the U.S. after birth, but before you turned 18 years of age (acquisition), as described above.
The laws that govern birth citizenship have changed over the years. Much depends on the date of birth of the child and the laws that were in effect at that time. Another factor is which parent is the U.S. citizen and if both parents were married. The law is tricky but our immigration attorneys can help.