Citizenship: Becoming a U.S. Citizen
The journey to U.S. citizenship is a significant and transformative process. Seeking the guidance of a knowledgeable attorney can greatly enhance the likelihood of a successful application. U.S. citizenship offers numerous benefits, including:
- The right to vote in federal and local elections.
- The ability to bring family members to the United States.
- Obtaining citizenship for children born abroad.
- Traveling with a U.S. passport.
- Eligibility for federal jobs and elected official positions.
Distinguishing Between Citizenship and Naturalization
While often used interchangeably, citizenship and naturalization are not identical. Citizenship is a status that grants full political and civil rights in the U.S. This status can be acquired either by birth within the United States or through U.S. citizen parents. On the other hand, naturalization is the legal process through which a non-U.S. citizen voluntarily becomes a U.S. citizen. It involves meeting specific eligibility criteria and completing a formal application process.
Naturalization is the primary route for immigrants to become U.S. citizens. It involves meeting specific criteria, such as:
- Being a Legal Permanent Resident (LPR) for at least 5 years, or 3 years if married to a U.S. citizen.
- Being at least 18 years old.
- Maintaining continuous residence in the U.S. for at least 5 years.
- Passing the English and Civics Test, subject to certain exemptions.
- Demonstrating good moral character.
Citizenship Through a U.S. Citizen Parent
Individuals may also acquire U.S. citizenship through their parents, in the following ways:
- At birth: Citizenship can be granted if one parent was a U.S. citizen who had lived in the U.S. for a specified period.
- After birth but before the age of 18: Children born abroad can become U.S. citizens if they are under 18, reside in the U.S., are LPRs, and have at least one parent who is a U.S. citizen by birth or through naturalization.
Navigating the path to U.S. citizenship requires detailed preparation and a deep understanding of the legal process. Our team at Mokolo Law Frim specializes in citizenship matters, successfully guiding clients through the complexities of acquiring U.S. citizenship.
For more information on how to embark on your citizenship journey, please use one of the contact options below to schedule a paid consultation with our experienced immigration attorneys.