Many people tend to confuse the terms “naturalization” and “citizenship.” If a person was neither born on American soil nor born to US citizen parents, it is possible to obtain US citizenship by applying for naturalization.
Can a Miami lawyer speed up the process to obtain US citizenship? Keep reading to find out.
US Citizenship Acquisition vs. US Naturalization – The Fundamentals
A person acquires US citizenship through parents who are US citizens either at birth or after birth, but before the age of 18. If a person is not born a US citizen, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) permits eligible lawful permanent residents to apply for naturalization.
Once the naturalization process is complete, successful applicants are granted US citizenship after meeting the requirements established by the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Eligible foreign nationals may apply for US naturalization in three different ways:
- Based on lawful permanent residence in the United States for at least five years
- Based on marriage to a US citizen
- Based on US military service
Although most eligibility requirements are similar, there are slight differences between the categories. Consult with an expert immigration attorney to identify the best approach for your case.
US Naturalization vs. US Citizenship – Eligibility Criteria
Whether an applicant is filing for naturalization based on lawful permanent residence, marriage to a US citizen, or US military service, the basic requirements are the same. First, no applicant is eligible for US naturalization before the minimum age, which is 18 years old.
Foreign nationals need to be lawful permanent residents before applying for naturalization. The most common path is to apply based on being a lawful permanent resident for at least five years before the application.
If the applicant’s petition is based on marriage to a US citizen, it is possible to apply for naturalization after three years of lawful permanent residence in the country.
Being a green card holder is not sufficient, as applicants must demonstrate continuous residence and physical presence in the United States. Depending on the applicant’s circumstances, traveling abroad for more than six months may impact one’s eligibility for naturalization.
One of the most difficult aspects of the naturalization process is demonstrating good moral character. USCIS requires applicants to prove they have exhibited good moral character during the three or five years immediately before the application.
All applicants must also complete an English proficiency test, including a portion dedicated to a civics test focused on US history, principles, and government. Depending on the applicant’s performance, USCIS will grant him or her approval for US citizenship.
Can a Miami Lawyer Speed Up Citizenship and Naturalization Process?
- Assisting the applicant to fill out USCIS forms and handling the required fees
- Organizing and handling the supporting documents
- Ensuring the applicant submits the document package as required by USCIS
- Anticipating potential issues and correcting them before they arise
- Preparing the applicant for the interview
- Ensure the applicant’s efficient preparation for the English and civics tests
- Filing appeals and requesting supervisors to review unfair decisions by Immigration officials (if necessary)
- Providing valuable insights during the entire process