US Immigration Law
CITIZENSHIP AND NATURALIZATION

US citizenship may be obtained in several different ways. In general, a person born in the United States is a citizen at birth unless they are born to foreign parents with diplomatic status. Citizenship may also be acquired by a person born abroad through a person’s parent or parents who are US citizens. Depending on various factors such as when the person and their parents were born, citizenship may be acquired and evidence of the person’s citizenship can be obtained by applying for a certificate of citizenship with the USCIS or by applying for a US passport with the US Department of State.

Citizenship can also be obtained by applying for naturalization. A person who has been a lawful permanent resident for five years may apply (or in the case of a lawful permanent resident who is married to and living with a US citizen – he or she may apply after three years). The process requires an N-400 application that will lead to an interview. At the interview, the applicant is tested on their knowledge of US history, government and civics, and their ability to read and write in the English language. Some important considerations to take into account before applying are whether the applicant has ever been arrested, whether (if a man) the applicant was required to and did register for Selective Service, whether they’ve paid required child support, how much time they’ve spent outside of the US since becoming a lawful permanent resident, and whether they owe back taxes.

There are some important exceptions to the English language requirement of the interview process. If the applicant has been a permanent resident for 15 years and they are 55 years old or older or if the applicant has been a permanent resident for 20 years and they are 50 years old or older they may take the test and be interviewed in their native language (with the assistance of an interpreter).

Another important exception to taking the test altogether (or taking the test in English) is if the applicant has a physical or developmental disability or mental impairment that prevents them from demonstrating the otherwise required knowledge of English language and US history and civics in the Naturalization process. This is accomplished by filing an N-648 medical waiver. This is an intricate process in which the attorneys at Gerstein & Baret, PL have extensive experience.

If you are unsure of whether you are a US citizen or if you wish to become a naturalized US citizen, please contact the attorneys at Gerstein & Baret, PL who have handled countless such cases for our clients.