Naturalization is the process by which United States Citizenship is granted to a foreign citizen after he or she meets certain criteria established by the United States Congress in the Immigration and Nationality Act. In most cases an applicant must first be a legal permanent resident (have in their possession a Green Card) before filing. Naturalization can only be granted in the United States unless you fall under certain exceptions for U.S. Military Members and their dependents.
Qualifications for Naturalization
- You have been a legal permanent resident (LPR) for the last 5 years and meet all other eligibility requirements;
- You have been a permanent resident for 3 years or more and meet all eligibility requirements to file as a spouse of a U.S. citizen; or
- You have qualifying service in the U.S. armed forces and meet all other eligibility requirements.
In all Naturalization cases, one important factor is the “Good Moral Character” of an applicant. Applicants should properly inform their attorney of any and all past criminal, tax, or child support issues. Citizenship is privilege, not a right, thus USCIS carries certain discretion when deciding whether or not a individual meets the set requirements. If a person believes they might have issues that could affect their “Good Moral Character” determination, it is highly recommended that they speak to a lawyer before filing any documentation.
The Certificate of US Citizenship Form N-600 is a document issued by the United States government as proof of U.S. citizenship. Individuals who are eligible to apply for the United States Certificate of Citizenship include those who obtained U.S. citizenship while residing in the United States or individuals who were born outside the United States to U.S. citizens. A person born outside the United States to a U.S. citizen parent(s) may have already acquired U.S. citizenship. Such a person, to document their U.S. citizenship status based on U.S. citizen parentage can file an Application for Certificate of Citizenship (N-600).
Requirements for N-600
- An individual, born outside the U.S., claiming to have U.S. citizenship by birth to a U.S. citizen parent, may file this form;
- An individual who was born to a U.S. Citizen outside the United States or who met all the requirements for becoming a U.S. Citizen prior to their 18th birthday can file this form at any time during their lifetime;
- If you were adopted or the biological child under the age of 18 meeting the requirements for citizenship under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), this form must be filed by the U.S. citizen parent or legal guardian who has been awarded legal and physical custody of the child;
- If an individual is the biological or adopted child of a U.S. citizen parent, they were born outside the United States and they are claiming U.S. citizenship by action of law, they automatically become a U.S. citizen if:
- At least one parent is a U.S. Citizen by birth or through the naturalization process; and
- The individual lives in the U.S. with their U.S. citizen parent; and
- The individual was legally admitted as permanent resident; and
- The individual is still under the age of 18; and
- The individual is the biological child in the legal custody of the U.S. citizen parent prior to reaching their 16th birthday or they are the biological child born out of wedlock and they have not been legitimated and their mother has become a U.S. citizen through the naturalization process.
An individual may also file for an N-600 if the following happened before their 18th birthday and prior to February 27, 2001:
- The individual consistently lived in the U.S. after being admitted lawfully as permanent resident; and
- Both parents, the parent awarded legal and physical custody of that individual, or the only surviving parent is a U.S. citizen by naturalization.
If an individual is the biological child of a U.S. citizen, they were born outside the United States and are claiming citizenship by having been born to U.S. citizen parent(s), the person automatically becomes a U.S. citizen at birth if:
- If both parents are U.S. Citizens and one of them resided in the U.S. This residence must have taken place prior to the individual’s birth; or
- If one of the parents is a foreign national and other is an U.S. citizen who, before the person’s birth, had physically been in the U.S. for a period or periods totaling not less than five years, of which at least two of those were after the parent’s age of 14 years.