WYRWTK | Episode #19 | Am I Eligible to Become a U.S. Citizen?
Transcript: Hi, I am Attorney Shaffer, today on “What You Really Want to Know,” we answer the question, “Am I eligible to become a U.S. Citizen?”
Let’s take a look at these requirements:
1. Years as a Permanent Resident. You must have been a Permanent Resident for the required amount of time. Most people will need to have a Green Card for 5 years before they are eligible for naturalization. Asylees only need 4 years, and if you obtained your Green Card through marriage to a U.S. Citizen and you are still married and living with that U.S. Citizen, then you only need to wait 3 years after becoming a Permanent Resident.
2. Applicant’s age. You must be at least 18-years-old to apply for Naturalization.
3. Continuous Residency. You must have been continuously residing in the U.S. for a least 5 years before you file. There is one exception, and that is for spouses of U.S. Citizens, who need 3 years of continuous residency.
4. Physical Presence. You must have been physically present in the U.S. for least 30 months out of the 5 years immediately preceding the filing of your application. Again, there is an exception for a spouse of U.S. Citizen, who only needs to have been physically present for 18 months out of the 3 years immediately preceding the filing.
5. Good Moral Character. You must be a person of good moral character to be eligible for Naturalization. There are many factors that go into determining if you have good moral character and the immigration officer has wide discretion in deciding if you do in fact do, and they get to look back 5 years (immediately preceding the filing of your application). An experienced immigration attorney can help you determine if you will have any problem meeting this requirement, and therefore should wait to file for your naturalization.
6. No disqualifying crimes. Unlike the good moral character requirement, there is no time period for the look back at your criminal history. There are certain crimes that will forever render you ineligible for Naturalization. If you have any criminal history, it is highly recommended that you contact an experienced immigration attorney to ensure that your criminal history will not disqualify you. The last thing you want when you are waiting for an approval notice in the mail, is instead of an approval notice, is a Notice to Appear in Immigration Court. USCIS does have the authority to place you in Removal/ Deportation Proceedings if they realize that you committed a crime at anytime that renders you deportable.
7. English Literacy. You are not allowed a translator for your Naturalization interview. You also must prove you can read and write in English, and finally;
8. Knowledge of U.S. History and Civics. You must pass the U.S. History and Civics test at the interview. You will be asked 10 questions and you have to get at least 6 correct.
Becoming a U.S. Citizen is exciting, but it is crucial to ensure that you meet all of the eligibility requirements before you file the application for Naturalization. This will help you prevent delay, denial, headaches and further expense.
That is all for this episode of “What You Really Want to Know,” thanks for watching!
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