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When Can I Apply for U.S. Citizenship?

Don’t Let Uncertainty Hinder Your Dreams of Becoming a U.S. Citizen

Becoming a United States citizen is a momentous milestone, representing not only a commitment to a new home but also an affirmation of one’s dedication to the values and opportunities that the nation upholds. For those seeking to embark on this transformative journey, understanding the process, eligibility requirements, and when you can apply for US citizenship is crucial. 

Let El Camino Inmigracion stand by your side today, making the path to US citizenship clearer and more achievable than ever before. Embrace the possibilities that lie ahead and embark on this life-changing endeavor with confidence, knowing that El Camino Inmigracion is here to support you every step of the way.  Contact us today to know more. 

What is U.S. Citizenship?

United States citizenship is a legal status that confers certain rights, privileges, and responsibilities to individuals who are recognized as citizens of the United States. US citizenship is one of the most sought-after statuses in the world, as it provides numerous benefits and opportunities for those who possess it.

Key characteristics of US citizenship include:

  • Rights and Privileges: US citizens have various rights guaranteed by the US Constitution, such as the right to vote in federal elections, the right to work in the country without restrictions, and the right to receive protection from the US government while traveling abroad.
  • Security and Stability: Being a US citizen offers a sense of security and stability within the country. Citizens cannot be deported from the United States and can reside permanently in the country.
  • Ability to Sponsor Family Members: US citizens have the advantage of being able to sponsor certain family members for immigration to the US, which can significantly impact the reunification of families.
  • Access to Federal Jobs and Benefits: Many federal jobs and government benefits are reserved for US citizens, providing additional opportunities for career advancement and assistance.
  • Participation in Public Office: US citizens are eligible to run for and hold public office, from local government positions to the presidency.
  • Consular Assistance Abroad: When traveling or living overseas, US citizens can receive assistance and protection from US embassies and consulates in case of emergencies.

When Can I Apply for U.S. Citizenship? 

The eligibility requirements for applying for US citizenship can vary based on the pathway through which you qualify. Here are some common scenarios that determine when you can apply for US citizenship:

Birthright Citizenship 

Birthright citizenship, also known as jus soli, is a principle in US law that grants citizenship to individuals born on US soil, regardless of their parents’ nationality or immigration status. This concept is deeply rooted in the Fourteenth Amendment to the US Constitution, which states, “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.” 

This fundamental right ensures that anyone born within the territorial boundaries of the United States automatically becomes a US citizen at birth.

Eligibility Criteria for Birthright Citizenship

The eligibility criteria for birthright citizenship are relatively straightforward:

  • Born within US Territory:  You must be born within the physical boundaries of the United States or its outlying possessions, such as Puerto Rico, Guam, the Virgin Islands, or the Northern Mariana Islands.
  • Subject to US Jurisdiction: You must be “subject to the jurisdiction” of the United States. This generally means that the individual is not a diplomat or a foreign enemy combatant during a time of war.

Citizenship Through Parents (Derivation)

Derivation of citizenship, also known as citizenship through parents, is a legal principle that allows certain individuals born abroad to automatically acquire US citizenship if they meet specific eligibility criteria. This process applies to children born to US citizen parents, whether they were born in the United States or abroad.

Eligibility Criteria for Deriving Citizenship Through Parents

The eligibility criteria for deriving US citizenship through parents depend on various factors, including the citizenship status of the parents, the date of the child’s birth, and the parent’s physical presence in the United States. The following scenarios are common for the derivation of citizenship:

  • Both Parents Are US Citizens:  If a child is born abroad to parents who are both US citizens at the time of the child’s birth, the child automatically acquires US citizenship at birth. However, there may be specific requirements for parents’ length of residence or presence in the US before the child’s birth.
  • One Parent is a US Citizen and the Other is a Lawful Permanent Resident:  If a child is born abroad to one US citizen parent and one parent who is a lawful permanent resident (green card holder) at the time of the child’s birth, the child may derive US citizenship, provided the US citizen parent meets certain residency requirements before the child’s birth.
  • One Parent is a US Citizen and the Other is Not: If a child is born abroad to one US citizen parent and a non-US citizen parent, the child may acquire US citizenship if certain conditions are met. Generally, the US citizen parent must have a certain period of physical presence in the US before the child’s birth.

Naturalization for Permanent Residents

Naturalization is the process by which eligible lawful permanent residents can become US citizens. It is a significant step for individuals who have established a permanent and lawful residency in the United States and wish to fully participate in the country’s civic and political life. 

Eligibility Criteria for Permanent Residents Applying for Citizenship

To be eligible for naturalization, lawful permanent residents must meet the following general requirements:

  • Age Requirement: The applicant must be at least 18 years old at the time of filing the naturalization application (Form N-400 ).
  • Continuous Residence: The applicant must have continuously resided in the United States for a specific period, usually five years. However, this requirement may be reduced to three years if married to a US citizen.
  • Physical Presence: The applicant must have been physically present in the US for thirty months within the 5 years continuous residence period.
  • Good Moral Character: The applicant must demonstrate good moral character, which involves maintaining a positive record of conduct and adhering to US laws.
  • English Language Proficiency: Applicants are required to demonstrate the ability to read, write, and speak basic English, with exceptions for certain age and residency combinations.
  • Civics Knowledge: Applicants must pass a civics test covering US history and government. There are exemptions and accommodations for applicants with certain disabilities and age-related factors.
  • Attachment to the Constitution: The applicant must be willing to support and defend the principles of the US Constitution and be well-disposed to the good order and happiness of the United States.

As with any immigration process, it is essential to seek legal advice or assistance from our knowledgeable immigration attorneys when applying for naturalization.

Special Cases

Here are the following circumstances that are considered special cases:

Military Service and Citizenship

  • Eligibility Requirements for Military Personnel: Military service members may be eligible for expedited naturalization under the Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest (MAVNI) program. To qualify, individuals must meet specific criteria, such as possessing critical skills, being in a lawful nonimmigrant status, and successfully completing basic training.
  • Expedited Citizenship Process for Service Members: The MAVNI program offers an expedited path to citizenship for qualifying military personnel. 

Citizenship through Marriage to a US Citizen

  • Eligibility Criteria for Spouses of US Citizens: Spouses of US citizens may be eligible to apply for US citizenship through marriage if they meet certain requirements. The key eligibility criteria include:
    • Being a lawful permanent resident for at least three years
    • Being married to the same US citizen spouse for the entire three-year period
    • Meeting all other naturalization requirements
  • Conditional versus Immediate Citizenship: In some cases, spouses who have been married for less than two years at the time of obtaining their green card will be granted conditional permanent resident status. In such situations, the conditional green card must be converted to a regular (unconditional) green card before applying for citizenship. 

If you are considering applying for US citizenship, it is advisable to consult with our immigration attorney to assess your eligibility and ensure a smooth application process.

Call our Immigration Attorney and Let us Help You When You Can Apply For U.S. Citizenship Now!

Being a citizen of the U.S. is a significant ambition, but the process of becoming one may be difficult and confusing, leaving many people unsure of where to start. Do not panic if you find yourself in this circumstance. El Camino Inmigracion’s exceptional legal services are here to help you navigate the intricacies of the US immigration system. We’ll help you determine when you can apply for U.S. citizenship and turn your dream of US citizenship into a reality.

Don’t let uncertainty hold you back from achieving your American dream. Take action today and partner with us at El Camino Inmigracion to embark on your journey to US citizenship with confidence. Empower yourself with our top-notch legal services and let us handle the complexities while you focus on embracing the privileges and opportunities that US citizenship offers. Contact us now and schedule a free consultation.

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