Are you a citizen of the United States? This may seem like a basic question, but for some the answer may be complicated. Many people may be U.S. citizens without even knowing it, particularly where their citizenship is derived through the naturalization of their parents. The distinction can be significant, particularly where that person finds themselves facing criminal charges. Below I outline the ways in which a person might have become a U.S. citizen as a child through no action of their own.
U.S. Citizen at Time of Birth
Birth in the United States or certain U.S. territories. This is how most of us derived our citizenship and while this route is quite well known, some confusion persists. For example, Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor, whose parents moved to New York from Puerto Rico before she was born, is often incorrectly labeled as … Read More »
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. If your citizen spouse is employed abroad by the U.S. Government, an American business or one of certain organizations, you may be able to gain your citizenship through “expedited naturalization.” Typically, naturalization requires that a permanent resident both reside and be present in the U.S. a certain number of days before application. However, the expedited citizenship process waives these presence and residency requirements, allowing the green card holder to become a U.S. citizen much faster.
To qualify for this expedited naturalization process:
You must be a lawful permanent resident who is married to a U.S. citizen;
Your spouse must work for one of the following: the U.S. government; a specifically recognized American institution or public international organization; or an … Read More »
The naturalization of a newly-minted U.S. citizen is cause for much celebration. The road to naturalization, however, can be fraught with problems, some of which can even result in revocation of one’s underlying green card status. Below, I have highlighted three areas that all applicants should carefully consider.
If you obtained a green card through marriage to a U.S. citizen, to be eligible for naturalization you must have been a lawful permanent resident for at least 3 years. You must also reside with your spouse in a bona fide marital relationship during that time, and that spouse must have been a U.S. citizen during that time as well. The naturalization form can be submitted after 2 years, 9 months.
In all other cases, to be eligible for naturalization you must have been a lawful permanent resident for at least 5 years. In these … Read More »
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano announced on January 15, 2010 the publication of a rule formalizing the longstanding DHS policy to expedite and streamline the citizenship process for men and women bravely serving in America’s armed forces.
“The foundation of our national security is the patriotic service and extraordinary sacrifices made by the men and women of our armed forces,” said Secretary Napolitano. “Expediting the citizenship process for service members reflects our commitment to honoring those who come from all over the world to serve our country and become its newest citizens.”
The rule amends DHS regulations to conform to the National Defense Authorization Act of 2004, reducing the time requirements for naturalization through military service from three years to one year for applicants who served during peacetime, and extending benefits to members of the Selected Reserve of the … Read More »
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is reminding the public that as of October 1, 2009, all citizenship applicants must take the new naturalization test, regardless of when they filed their Application for Naturalization (Form N-400).
“Becoming a United States citizen carries with it extraordinary rights and responsibilities,” said USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas. “Our new test captures the meaning of citizenship and is consistent with our values and history as a nation.”
The revised naturalization test will help strengthen integration efforts by emphasizing fundamental concepts of American democracy, basic U.S. history, and the rights and responsibilities of citizenship.
USCIS began administering the new naturalization test October 1, 2008, with two basic objectives – to ensure a uniform test administration nationwide and to develop a civics test that can effectively assess an applicant’s knowledge of U.S. history and government. Up until October 1, 2009, … Read More »
On September 18, 2009, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Bangkok Deputy Director Stacy Strong joined Rear Adm. Richard Wren, Commander of U.S. Naval Forces in Japan, at the Yokosuka Naval Station for a special naturalization ceremony for 98 new citizens of the United States.
Deputy Director Strong administered the Oath of Allegiance to the 56 Soldiers, Sailors, Marines; 40 military spouses; and two children of Sailors. This was the largest number of spouses to naturalize in one ceremony outside the United States.
As the new citizens recited the Oath, they declared to “support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America,” which had added significance as the ceremony was held to celebrate and observe Constitution Day and Citizenship Day.
Deputy Director Strong underscored the commitment by USCIS to the U.S. Armed Forces, and remarked that USCIS will … Read More »
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has naturalized the first nonimmigrant to enlist in the military under the Defense Department’s Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest (MAVNI) pilot recruiting program.
Dr. Brown* was the first nonimmigrant to sign a contract under the MAVNI program. He enlisted in the Army in April, and in June, he applied to become a naturalized citizen. One month later, he passed his naturalization test and recited the Oath of Allegiance becoming a citizen of the United States.
[* The name “Brown” is a pseudonym used at the request of the army.]
“This ceremony happened in record time because our military liaison team maintained close coordination with the Army and tracked Dr. Brown’s naturalization packet from the time he applied with our Nebraska Service Center until today,” said Debra Rogers, acting Deputy Associate Director of USCIS’ … Read More »
An impromptu island theme filled the chapel at Camp Arifjan, Kuwaiton June 27, 2009, when 84 Soldiers and Sailors recited the Oath of Allegiance and became the newest citizens of the United States. This was the largest naturalization ceremony held in Kuwait to date.
Before the ceremony started, Army Spec. Tanu Liulamaga Tanu led the 41 citizenship candidates from America Samoa in traditional island songs.
“Two of my staff from Rome volunteered to travel to Kuwait to process the applications and conduct the citizenship tests,” said Lori Pietropaoli, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Deputy District Director for Rome. “It was a memorable moment for all of us to hear them sing, and an even greater moment after the ceremony to hear them cheer after receiving their citizenship certificates.”
Brothers Dave and Douglas Satele and their cousin Ignosy Faafoi Toeava now share more … Read More »
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will commemorate America’s 233rd birthday by naturalizing more than 6,000 citizenship candidates in approximately 50 special ceremonies held across the United States and overseas. Five of these ceremonies are for members of the U.S. Armed Forces.
“There is no more important role we have as an agency than to welcome new citizens during naturalization ceremonies throughout the year,” said USCIS Acting Deputy Director Michael Aytes. “But on the Fourth of July, that role is even more profound as we proudly stand side-by-side with the newest Americans to celebrate our independence together as one family.”
This year, the week-long celebration by USCIS of citizenship is highlighted by various special events, including ceremonies on July 1 at the Sacramento Memorial Auditorium for approximately 800 candidates and on July 3 at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, for approximately … Read More »
On June 10, 2009, the U.S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa, Honduras hosted the first naturalization ceremony ever held by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in Latin America.
“I can think of no greater privilege than to be the first to welcome as the newest citizens of the United States two American soldiers, who currently serve our nation in Honduras and who have each already completed two tours of duty in Iraq,” said Michael Aytes, USCIS’ acting deputy director.
Army Staff Sgt. Damien Milne, a native of the Marshall Islands, submitted his application for U.S. citizenship less than a month ago. On June 8, USCIS Honduras Field Office Director Emigdio Martinez traveled to Soto Cano Air Base and administered the naturalization test to Milne, which he aced. The new U.S. citizen now calls Killeen, Texas home.
Army Sgt. Carmen Villa, born in Mexico, … Read More »