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U.S.

CitizenshipLawyerinSanJose

ApplyingforU.S.Citizenship
BecomingaU.S.citizencomeswithgreat,compellingadvantages:Youcanvoteyouareentitledto
governmentbenefitsyoubecomeaholderoftheworldsmostpowerfulpassportsandmore.
SohowdoesonebecomeaU.S.citizen?ObtainingU.S.citizenshipcanbedonebybirthor
naturalization.UnlessyouwerebornintheU.S.,oroneorbothofyourparentswereU.S.citizensat
thetimeofyourbirthabroad,youarerequiredtogothroughthenaturalizationprocess.

U.S.CitizenshipbyNaturalization
Whatisthenaturalizationprocess?ItistheprocesswhereinaforeignnationalisgrantedU.S.
citizenshipaftertheymeettherequirementsstipulatedintheImmigrationandNationalityAct(INA).
ToqualifyforU.S.citizenship,youmustfulfillthefollowingrequirementsfornaturalization:

YoumusthavelivedintheU.S.foratleastfiveyearsasalawfulpermanentresident
orgreencardholder.IfyouaremarriedtoandlivingwithaU.S.citizen,youmust
havebeenalawfulpermanentresident(LPR)forthreeyears.
Youareatleast18yearsold
Youdidnotmakeanyothercountryyourpermanenthomeduringyourpermanent
residencyintheU.S.
Youhavegoodcharacter,nocriminalarrests,filedallyourtaxes,etc.
Mustbeabletoread,write,andspeakEnglish
YoumustknowthehistoryandgovernmentoftheUnitedStates
YoumustpledgeyourallegiancetotheUnitedStatesandaccepttheprinciplesofthe
U.S.Constitution

U.S.CitizenshipResources

ForfurtherinformationregardingtheEnglishandCivics/Historyexams,pleaseclick
here
.
TherearelimitedsituationsthatexemptapplicantsfromtakingtheEnglishexam.
Click
here
formoreinformationonthis.

AcquiredU.S.CitizenshipatBirth
IfyouwerebornabroadtoU.S.citizenparentsoraparent,dependingonthedateofyourbirth,and
otherU.S.residenceandphysicalpresencerequirementsofyourU.S.citizenparent(s),andinsome
cases,ofyourU.S.citizengrandparent(s)and/oryourresidenceintheU.S.,youmayhaveacquired
U.S.citizenshipbybirth.Thescenariosvary,dependingonthedateofyourbirth,sinceapplicable
lawschangeovertheyears.
Onescenarioisthefollowing:IfyouwerebornabroadonorafterNovember11,1986,youarea
U.S.citizenifbothyourparentswereU.S.citizens,theyweremarriedatthetimeofyourbirth,and
oneofthemhadeverresidedintheU.S.IfonlyoneparentwasaU.S.citizenandtheotherwasa
U.S.national,thenthecitizenparentmusthavebeenphysicallypresentintheU.S.oritsoutlying
territoriesforacontinuousperiodof1year.IfoneparentwasaU.S.citizenandtheotherwas
foreignalien(nonU.S.citizen/national),thentheU.S.parentmusthavebeenphysicallypresentin
theU.S.oritsoutlyingpossessionsfor5years,2ofwhichaftertheageof14.Thephysical
presencemaybeinaggregate,andtimetheparentwasintheU.S.asanonimmigrantoreven
unlawfullycounts.ThereareotherpossibilitiesthatonebornabroadtomarriedU.S.parentsmay

haveacquiredU.S.citizenatbirth.This
nationalitychart
ontheUSCISwebsitereallyhelpsto
summarizethescenarios.
Itisawholedifferentanalysisifyouwerebornabroadtounmarriedparents,andwhethertheU.S.
citizenparentwasyourmotheroryourfather.This
nationalitychart
ontheUSCISwebsitereally
helpstosummarizethescenarioforsuchoutofwedlockbirthabroad(e.g.,residencerequirements
aredifferentdependingonwhetheritwasyourmotheroryourfatherwhowastheU.S.citizen,andif
father,thenthereareadditionalrequirementsoflegitimation).

DerivativeU.S.Citizenship
ThenthereisyetanotherbirthabroadscenarioinwhichtherewasnoacquisitionofU.S.citizenship
atbirth,butifcertainfactsexistpriortocertainage(18yearsinmostcases,or21inother,earlier
cases),youmayhave
derived
citizenshipthroughyourU.S.citizenparent.Acommonscenario
involvesforeignnationalparentsimmigratingtotheU.S.withthewholefamilyincludingminor
children.OneorbothparentnaturalizestobecomeaU.S.citizen.Ifthechildwasbornonorafter
February27,2001andlivedinthelegalandphysicalcustodyoftheU.S.parentandthechildis
under18,thenthechildhasderivedcitizenshipwhentheU.S.parentgainedcitizenshipby
naturalization.Similartoacquisitionofcitizenshipatbirth,therearemanyvariablesdependingon
thedateofbirthofthechild.This
nationalitychart
ontheUSCISwebsitereallyhelpstosummarize
thescenarioforderivativecitizenshipcases.

AdvantagesofBeingaU.S.Citizen
Wevetouchedonthissubjectlightlyinthebeginning,butletstakeadeeperlookintoit.Inaddition
tobeingabletoenjoyalltherightsandbenefitsofbeingaU.S.citizen,suchastherighttovoteand
toobtaincertaingovernmentbenefits,youareprotectedfromremoval(deportation)ifyouwereto
beconvictedofcertainotherwisedeportableoffenses(e.g.aggravatedfelonies,crimesinvolving
moralturpitudeorCIMT,etc.).
Anotherbenefit:Youmaybringyourfiance(e)fromoverseasinordertomarrywithintheUnited
States(thefiance(e)maythenapplyforadjustmentofstatusintheU.S.).Itisunclearatthistime,
however,ifaU.S.citizenwhohasacquiredU.S.citizenshipautomaticallyatbirthisthesameas

naturalborncitizenundertheU.S.Constitution,forpurposesofeligibilitytobecometheUnited
StatesPresident.

WhyisaU.S.citizenshiplawyerinSanJoseneededforthe
citizenship/naturalizationprocess?
ApplyingforU.S.citizenshipissuchahugedecisionandanextremelyimportantmilestonetobe
doneDIYstyle.Thenaturalizationprocessislong,complex,andlitteredwithnuances.ASanJose
immigrationattorneycanguideyouthroughoutallthestages,fromgatheringtherequirementsfor
naturalizationtopreparingfortheinterview.Additionally,shouldyourunintochallenges,an
immigrationlawyercanlookintoalltheoptions,soyoucanstillachievethedesiredoutcome.
IfyouareconsideringobtainingU.S.citizenshipthroughnaturalization,orifyoubelieveyoumay
haveacquiredorderivedcitizenshipthroughyourparent(s),
contacttheSanJoseimmigration
attorneys
theLawOfficeofAlisonYewforaconsultation.