For many immigrants, becoming a United States citizen is their long-term goal. The process of obtaining citizenship can be straightforward for some. Others face challenges and hurdles. There are two ways a person can become a United States citizen, through birth or the naturalization process. It’s also possible for some individuals born abroad to a U.S. citizen parent to acquire U.S. citizenship.
Consult with a Citizenship Lawyer in San Bernardino and Riverside
Attorney Ronald L. Freeman of the Law Offices of Ronald L. Freeman has helped many Inland Empire clients achieve their dream of citizenship. He has the knowledge and tools to help you or your loved one apply for and overcome the challenges you’re facing during the citizenship and naturalization process. The immigration system is confusing and rigorous. Contact attorney Ronald L. Freeman today to learn more about how he can help you find creative strategies to overcome any challenges you face.
We Provide Experienced Citizenship Representation
Attorney Ronald L. Freeman assists clients with a wide range of citizenship and naturalization issues, including:
- Naturalization after five years as a permanent resident
- Fast-tracking naturalization based on a three-year marriage to a U.S. citizen
- Fast-tracking naturalization through military service
- Providing legal advice on issues such as fraud, selective services, or convictions
- Providing legal advice on tax-related issues
- Applying for U.S. citizenship as a U.S. National
- Appealing the denial of your U.S. citizenship application
The Naturalization Process
Naturalization occurs when someone applies to be a U.S. citizen voluntarily. A foreign citizen can choose to pursue becoming a naturalized U.S. citizen through this process. After an individual successfully naturalizes, he or she will be considered a legal citizen of the United States. The process to become naturalized is extensive and complicated. The applicant must meet the basic eligibility requirements before they can file an N-400 form to become naturalized, including:
- At least 18 years old before the filing date
- Obtained a green card for at least five years and continuously resided in the United States
- Able to prove residency for at least three months in the state in which they file an application
- Had a physical presence in the United States for at least 30 months of their five years of green card residence
- Have resided in the United States from the time they apply to the time of their official naturalization
- Able to read, write, and speak basic English
- Able to obtain knowledge of the U.S. government and history
- Must have a good moral character
- Must show a connection to the U.S. Constitution regarding the laws and regulations
The Difference Between Physical Presence and Continuous Residence
The applicant must be physically present in the United States for at least 30 months out of their five years of green card residency to obtain physical presence. Of these five years of residency, the applicant must have resided in the state they’re applying for at least three months. For example, suppose an applicant is filing an application for naturalization in California. In that case, he or she must have been physically present for at least three months in California during the last five years.
On the contrary, continuous residence means that the applicant has obtained U.S. residency for at least five years before filing the N-400 application. An applicant shouldn’t travel more than six months during their continuous residence period. If they do, they may disrupt their residency requirements, and their application could be denied.
Pursuing Derivative Citizenship
An unmarried child under the age of 18 receives derivative citizenship when his or her parents become naturalized citizens. Derivative citizenship is automatic, and it occurs at the time of the parent’s naturalization as long as the conditions are satisfied at the time of the child’s 18th birthday. Adopted children born outside of the United States may be eligible for derivative citizenship as long as the conditions are met.
Requirements for Derivative Citizenship
The child must be unmarried, under the age of 18, and have at least one parent who’s been naturalized as a U.S. citizen to receive derivative citizenship. The minor child’s parents must become naturalized citizens before their child’s 18th birthday to qualify for derivative citizenship. Additionally, the minor child must be a legal permanent resident with an active green card before the parents’ naturalization. The child must be living with the naturalized parents under their legal custody.
The rules for adoptive children are somewhat different. The adoptive child must have been adopted before he or she turned 16 and must reside with the adoptive parents for at least two years. Adopted children who are under 18, unmarried, have a parent who is naturalized and has legal custody of them, and who have obtained legal permanent residence or green cards will receive derivative citizenship.
Acquisition of Citizenship
Acquisition of citizenship occurs when a foreign-born child obtains citizenship through birth from a parent who is a U.S. citizen. Acquisition of citizenship occurs automatically when the child is born if all of the conditions are satisfied and at least one of his or her parents is a U.S. citizen. There are different requirements for the acquisition of citizenship when a child is born out of wedlock. For a child born within wedlock, he or she must meet the following requirements to acquire citizenship, he or she:
- Must be born to at least one parent who has a U.S. citizen
- Must be a minor under the age of 18
- Must be unmarried
- Must obtain legal permanent residence or green card status
- Must live with their parents under their legal custody
Contact Our San Bernardino and Riverside Immigration Lawyer Today
Do you have questions related to citizenship, obtaining a visa, or any other immigration matter? If so, the Law Offices of Ronald L. Freeman assists clients with a full range of immigration issues, including citizenship. Please contact us today to schedule your free initial consultation at our Riverside or San Bernardino office.