citizenship & Naturalization
Short Hills Citizenship and Naturalization Consultants
Make Your American Dream a Reality
Becoming a permanent United States citizen is the ultimate goal of many immigrants. Only lawful permanent residents that meet certain requirements can initiate naturalization, the formal procedure through which an individual attains citizenship.
The naturalization process can be difficult to navigate without sufficient preparation and guidance, and most applicants will be required to pass a citizenship exam before taking the Oath of Allegiance.
Our Short Hills citizenship and naturalization consultants at Worldwide Legal Services will do whatever it takes to help you and your loved ones become permanent United States citizens.
Our team of professionals, specialists, and consultants have handled over 10,000 cases and together have over 50 years of experience. We understand the symbolic and practical importance of the naturalization process and are prepared to serve as your partner and advocate every step of the way.
Request a consultation with our Short Hills citizenship and naturalization consultantsor by contacting us online.
Naturalization Requirements in the United States
To become a U.S. citizen, you will first need to obtain a green card, which confers lawful permanent residency.
You can acquire a green card through:
- Family-based immigration
- Employment-based immigration
- Or on certain humanitarian grounds, such as through seeking asylum or a U visa
You cannot start naturalization immediately after obtaining a green card, however. Lawful permanent residents must undergo a mandatory waiting period before applying for citizenship. The extent of your waiting period will depend on how you obtained your green card.
Lawful permanent residents who attained their green card through marriage to a U.S. citizen will need to wait a minimum of 3 years before applying for citizenship. Most lawful permanent residents who acquired their green cards through any other means will need to wait at least 5 years.
Individuals who obtained green cards as a result of granted asylum only need to wait 4 years after receiving their visa. Additional exceptions can apply to military service members and their spouses.
Lawful permanent residents must maintain sufficient levels of continuous and physical presence in the United States during their mandatory waiting periods. To maintain continuous presence, you must maintain your primary residence in the.
An individual “disrupts” their continuous presence when they travel outside the borders of the country for more than 6 months at a time. Physical preference refers to the number of calendar days in which an individual is physically within the borders of the United States.
To successfully apply for naturalization, lawful permanent residents must maintain continuous presence for the entire length of the mandatory waiting period. Consequently, lengthy trips abroad can threaten continuous presence and jeopardize your ability to become a U.S. citizen.
Lawful permanent residents must also be physically present in the United States for at least half of their mandatory waiting period. This means that those married to U.S. citizens must accumulate at least 1.5 years (18 months) of physical presence, while most other applicants will need to accrue at least 2.5 years (30 months).
Additional Naturalization Requirements in the United States
In addition to meeting continuous and physical presence requirements, a citizenship candidate must:
- Be a legal adult (18 years of age)
- Be of “good moral character”
- Have resided in their current state for at least 3 months
- Pass the citizenship exam
- Register with the Selective Service System if male and have lived in the country between the ages of 18 and 25
- Be willing to serve in the U.S. military if called upon
- Be willing to defend the U.S. Constitution
Our Short Hills citizenship and naturalization consultants can assess your situation and determine your eligibility. If you have inadvertently broken continuous or physical presence rules, we can help you explore solutions that can resolve the issue.
Request a consultation to discuss your naturalization eligibility by calling or contacting us online. Payment plans are available.
The Naturalization Application Process
If you meet all eligibility requirements, you can submit your application in the 90-day window before your mandatory waiting period ends. After receiving your application, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will schedule a biometrics appointment that will take your fingerprints and other identifying information.
Next comes what can be a lengthy wait. Most naturalization applicants will wait around 14 months before USCIS schedules their in-person interview and citizenship exam, both of which will be conducted at a local field office. The in-person interview is straightforward and will generally involve verifying information included in your application.
The Citizenship Exam
The citizenship exam includes civics and English language proficiency components. While tests can be stressful, especially with so much at stake, no element of the exam is not designed to be especially challenging. We can help you study and ensure you are appropriately prepared.
The civics portion assesses your basic understanding of U.S. government and history. You will be given 10 questions from a pool of 100, and you must answer at least 6 correctly. All 100 possible questions are published by USCIS online and can be reviewed in advance.
The English section of the exam evaluates your ability to speak, read, and write in the language. The speaking component is synonymous with the interview, which will be conducted entirely in English. You will generally pass if you are able to answer the USCIS official’s questions about your application.
For the reading portion, you will be given 3 sentences written in English. You must speak at least 1 of these sentences aloud in English. Finally, the writing portion involves the USCIS official reading 3 separate sentences aloud. You must successfully write down at least 1 of these sentences in English.
All is not lost if you initially do not pass one or more components of the citizenship exam. You will have a second chance to retake any portions of the test at a later scheduled date. Note that some exam-related exceptions are available to older applicants, applicants with qualifying disabilities, and applicants that have been lawful permanent residents for 20 years or more.
Taking the Oath of Allegiance and Benefits of United States Citizenship
Once you pass your citizenship exam, you will receive a letter from USCIS with the location, date, and time of your Oath of Allegiance ceremony. It is essential that you attend this ceremony to complete the naturalization process. You will become a permanent U.S. citizen as soon as you have formally taken the Oath.
U.S. citizenship confers numerous powerful benefits, including the ability to:
- Vote. U.S. citizens can vote in all federal elections plus your jurisdiction’s local elections.
- Run for elected office. You must be a U.S. citizen to run for most offices at each level of government.
- Sponsor family members for green cards under the immediate relative categories. Citizens can efficiently sponsor their spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 for green cards. Beneficiaries will not have to wait for visas to become available before applying for consular processing or an adjustment of status.
- Obtain automatic citizenship for new children. You can easily procure citizenship status for any new children born in the United States or abroad.
Citizens cannot be deported and can freely travel abroad via their U.S. passports. You will also no longer need to tell USCIS when you move or deal with any further immigration bureaucracy.
Our Short Hills citizenship & naturalization consultants at Worldwide Legal Services are committed to facilitating every element of your American Dream. In addition to guiding clients through various immigration processes, our firm also provides a full suite of general services to newly naturalized citizens.
We can assist you with:
- Record expungement
- Credit repair
- Business enterprise services
- Referrals to general legal counsel
- And more