Requirements for Naturalization. To qualify for U.S. citizenship through naturalization, you must:
- Be at least 18 years old.
- Be a lawful permanent resident (have a green card) for five years.
- If you are married to a U.S. citizen, you need to be a lawful permanent resident for only three years.
- If you had refugee or asylee status, you do not need the full five years of being a permanent resident. Consult with an immigration lawyer.
- Have good moral character. This means, among other things, not having certain problems with the police or other authorities.
- Be able to speak, read, and write English at a basic level. There are exceptions for older people. You do not have to know English if at the time you apply for naturalization: (a) you are 55 years or older and have had a green card for 15 years, or (b) you are 50 years or older and have had a green card for 20 years.
- Be able to pass a test on U.S. history and government.
- Swear that you are loyal to the United States.
Potential Roadblocks to Naturalization. If any of the following things are true about you, you should definitely consult with an immigration attorney before applying for naturalization:
- You made trips out of the United States for more than six months,
- You moved to another country since getting your green card,
- You are in deportation or removal proceedings, or you have been deported,
- You haven’t filed your federal income taxes,
- You haven’t supported your children,
- You are male and did not register for the Selective Service between the ages of 18 and 26,
- You are on probation or parole for a criminal conviction,
- You have contradictory information on your application,
- You lied or committed fraud to get your green card or you were not originally eligible for your green card when you got it,
- You have been arrested or convicted of a crime or you have committed a crime,
- You lied or committed fraud to receive or to continue to receive public benefits,
- You helped someone enter the United States illegally, even if it was a relative,
- You claimed to be a U.S. citizen but you were not,
- You have been charged with committing domestic violence, child abuse, or child neglect,
- You have voted illegally in the United States,
- You have made a living by illegal gambling,
- You have been involved in prostitution, or
- You have been a habitual drunkard, a drug abuser, or a drug addict.
Having one of the things in the above list be true about you does not necessarily disqualify you from naturalization, but you should talk to an immigration lawyer before you apply.
Expedited Citizenship. If you are a green card holder with a U.S. citizen spouse who is employed abroad, you may qualify for a special expedited citizenship process.
Our Immigration Attorneys
Livesay & Myers has a team of experienced immigration lawyers and support staff across offices in Fairfax, Fredericksburg and Manassas, Virginia, including Spanish speakers in Manassas and Fairfax. Our immigration team represents clients in Virginia, Washington, D.C. and across the United States. Be sure to review the qualifications and experience of each of our immigration attorneys to find the one who is the best fit for you. Then, contact us to schedule your consultation with one of our experienced immigration lawyers today—in person, over the telephone, or via webcam on Skype or Google Hangouts.