Immigrants from all over the world come to the United States to pursue the American dream. Commonly, individuals come to the U.S. via a green card in the quest of eventually getting citizenship. Though immigration can be a complicated process, it can be much less daunting with the help of an experienced immigration lawyer. Our New York immigration team breaks down the most common paths to becoming a U.S. citizen, their requirements, and the process.
Meeting the Key Requirements
The first step is to meet all the critical conditions for applying for U.S. citizenship. The first step is to ensure that you meet all the requirements for citizenship. The main requirements are that you:
- Be at least 18 years of age.
- Have been a Permanent Resident of the U.S. for at least five years or three years if you obtained a green card through marriage to a U.S. citizen.
- Can read, write, and speak basic English.
- Have an understanding and knowledge of U.S. history and government.
- Have lived within the state or USCIS district with jurisdiction over your place of residence for at least three months.
All applicants must also show good moral character during this period.
Citizenship Through Naturalization
The most common way of becoming a U.S. citizen is through naturalization. Naturalization is the way a U.S. lawful permanent resident is granted citizenship after meeting the requirements set by Congress in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Most individuals who gain citizenship are 18 years or older and have had a green card for five years. There are some exceptions to this rule, though, such as if you are married to a U.S. citizen or if you served in the U.S. military.
Citizenship Through Marriage
If you are married to a U.S. citizen, you may be eligible for citizenship through that union. The process is typically quicker than naturalization. While green card holders can apply for U.S. citizenship after five years, also known as the "five-year rule," those with a U.S. spouse and a green card through marriage can use it after only three years, known as the "three-year rule." To gain citizenship through marriage, you must live together with your U.S. spouse for at least three years before filing for naturalization.
Citizenship Through Parents
You may also be able to gain citizenship if your parents are citizens of the U.S. To qualify for citizen through parent, you must :
- Be under 18 years or older.
- Have at least one parent with citizenship, either by birth or naturalization.
- Be a lawful permanent resident.
- Meet specific physical presence requirements in the U.S.
The rules and requirements vary depending on how old you are and when your parents became citizens. Hence, it is important to consult with an immigration attorney to see if you qualify under this category. An immigration lawyer will be able to assess your particular situation and guide you through the process of becoming a U.S. citizen.
Citizenship Through the Military Service
If you have served in the U.S. military, you may be eligible for citizenship. The requirements vary depending on which branch of the military you fit in and how long you served. According to theUSCIS, to be eligible, you must have honorably served in the U.S. armed forces for a period totaling at least one year.
How We Can Help
Ready to take the following steps in your journey to citizenship? The New York immigration lawyers at J & K Law are here to help. We have a combined 20 years of legal experience helping people from all over the world navigate the complex process of becoming a U.S. citizens. Contact us today to schedule a consultation! We would be happy to answer any questions you may have about the process.
For help with your immigration case, don't hesitate to contact us today through our online contact form or give us a call at (212) 390-1024.