If you have decided to become a U.S. citizen, congratulations! Our immigration attorneys are very pleased that you desire to become a part of our great nation, built by immigrants from all over the world.
Since the United States was formed, immigrants have come here seeking freedom, opportunity, and a better life for their families. Meanwhile, these immigrants have strengthened our nation through their cultural diversity.
If you want to become a U.S. citizen, you’ll have to go through “naturalization,” which is the process where an immigrant becomes a U.S. citizen. In order to accomplish this goal, the immigrant must become a Lawful Permanent Resident first, otherwise known as a Green Card Holder.
About Permanent Residents
Permanent Residents have obtained “permanent resident” status in the U.S., which allows them to lawfully live and work in the United States. These individuals are given Permanent Resident Cards, also known as “Green Cards.”
Generally, Permanent Residents have to be in the U.S. for a specific period of time before they can apply for naturalization. However, being a Permanent Resident is not enough; you must have lived in the United States for a continued period of time before you can apply for naturalization.
“Continuous residence” means you’ve lived in the United States continuously for a long time. If you leave the United States for too long, it could interrupt your continuous residence and delay the naturalization process.
The length of time you must have your Green Card and have continuous residence in order to become a U.S. citizen will depend on your circumstances, for example, whether you’re in the U.S. Armed Forces, married to a U.S. citizen, and how long you’ve lived in the U.S. without interruption.
Generally, people have to be Permanent Residents for 5 years before they can apply for naturalization, but that time is shorter in certain circumstances, for example, it’s only 3 years when Green Card holders are married to U.S. citizens.
Applying for Naturalization
Once you’ve met the requirements for having a Green Card for a certain length of time, then you can apply for naturalization. In order to do this, you will need to file an Application for Naturalization (Form N-400).
Note: If you have been convicted of a crime, you need to be upfront about it, even if it has been expunged.
Always tell the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) about all:
- Arrests (even if the arrest didn’t lead to formal charges)
- Criminal convictions (all convictions)
- Any crimes you committed, but weren’t arrested
- Any evidence that mitigates your arrests or convictions
Please be aware that even if you committed a minor offense, the USCIS reserves the right to deny your application if you fail to disclose the crime to the USCIS officer on your case.
If you’re interested in applying for a Green Card or naturalization, contact our firm to schedule a consultation with a Plano immigration lawyer!