Earning U.S. citizenship is a high goal of many immigrants. Most become U.S. citizens through the process of naturalization. Others may automatically become U.S. citizens as minor children of naturalized parents. Other people, though born abroad, may be U.S. citizens as of their birth through parentage. Benson & Benson, with years of experience in matters of citizenship and naturalization, is able to quickly evaluate eligibility, identify areas of potential concern, and help applicants to achieve their citizenship goals.
Naturalization as a U.S. citizen generally requires the applicant to have been a lawful permanent resident for 5 years and to demonstrate good moral character during that time, too. (This 5 year requirement is, for some spouses of U.S. citizens, shortened down to just 3 years.)
In addition to holding lawful permanent residence for a specific period of time, the law also requires naturalization applicants to possess a willingness to support the Constitution and the form of government of the United States. Other requirements generally include (with some limited exceptions) demonstrating the ability to understand, speak, and read/write English at a basic level.
Questions about the naturalization process? Contact Benson & Benson for a consultation, and let us help you on the path to achieving this important goal.
citizenship through parent's naturalization
In 2000, Congress passed the "Child Citizenship Act", which created a system of automatic citizenship for children of naturalized parents. The law states that a child becomes a U.S. citizen automatically as soon as the following conditions are all met:
- The child is under the age of 18
- The child is admitted for lawful permanent residence
- The child has a U.S. citizen parent
- The child is in the physical and legal custody of the U.S. citizen parent
Children who become citizens through the Child Citizenship Act are eligible to apply for a U.S. passport and a Certificate of Citizenship at any point during their lives thereafter. Contact Benson & Benson for a consultation concerning possible citizenship through the Child Citizenship Act.
citizenship at birth (derivative citizenship)
The law relating to questions of citizenship for those born abroad has undergone some important changes in the past 100 years. But as of the most recent legislative update, persons born abroad after 1986 are eligible for derivative citizenship if they had a U.S. citizen parent at the time of their birth, and if that parent spent at least 5 years in the U.S. (2 years of which must have been after the parent's 14th birthday) before the birth of the applicant.
Each case is unique and features its own individual facts. And because the requirements of physical presence of the U.S. citizen parent vary depending on certain factors, including when the applicant was born, we advise each person with questions about derivative citizenship to contact Benson & Benson for a consultation.