U.S. Citizenship Naturalization Process

Naturalization is the process by which U.S. citizenship is granted to a foreign citizen or national after fulfilling the requirements established by Congress in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Need help with the Naturalization Process. In this article, our Houston immigration lawyer reviews the U.S. Citizenship & Naturalization Process, including requirements and benefits.

How to Become a Citizen

There are several methods to obtain citizenship as indicated below:

  • Birth in the U.S. – Person born in the United States who is subject to the jurisdiction of the United States is automatically a citizen at birth. 
  • Naturalization A person that is a legal permanent resident can file an application to become a U.S. citizen.
  • Operation of Law – A child that lives in the U.S. as a legal permanent resident can become a U.S. citizen if one of the custodial parents becomes a U.S citizen prior to the child’s 18th birthday.   
  • Acquisition at Birth – A child born outside the jurisdiction of the U.S. to a U.S. citizen parent can be acquire citizenship at birth if additional requirements are met.  

Benefits of Naturalization

Often times, individuals are concerned about the naturalization process and question whether obtaining citizenship is beneficial. While the Naturalization process can be frustrating and a bit overwhelming, there are numerous benefits to naturalization that should be heavily favored. Some of the benefits of naturalization include the following:

  • Voting in Federal Elections
  • Eligibility for Federal Jobs 
  • Eligibility to become an elected official
  • Petitioning certain family members
  • Obtaining and traveling abroad with a U.S passport
  • Obtaining citizenship for children born abroad
  • Ability to travel abroad for extended periods without losing U.S status
  • Eliminating requirement to renew green card
  • Reduced possibility of removal

N-400, N-600, N-336, N-648 Naturalization Cases

Houston Immigration Lawyers - Serrano Law Firm PLLCThe Serrano Law Firm can assist in you in obtaining citizenship through one of several methods.  Our attorneys are well experienced in various types of citizenship cases indicated below:

  • N-400 Application for Naturalization
  • N-600 Certificates of Citizenship
  • N-336 Requests for hearing on denied Naturalization Applications
  • N-648 Medical Certifications for Disability Exceptions

Requirements for Naturalization  

  • Time with LPR status – Be a permanent resident for at least 5 years, or 3 years if married to a U.S. citizen for minimum of 3 years. Exceptions apply for individuals that have honorable service in one of the branches of the Armed Forces. 
  • Physical Presence – Must have been physically present in the United State for more than 50% of the required residency period. In other words, the applicant must have been in the U.S. for at least 30 months out of the 5 years immediately preceding the date of filing the application or 50% of the 3 years, whichever is applicable to the case.
  • Continuous Residence – Must have resided continuously in the United States after his or her lawful permanent resident (LPR) admission for at least 5 years prior to filing the naturalization application and up to the time of naturalization. An applicant must also establish that he or she has resided in the state or service district having jurisdiction over the application for 3 months prior to filing.
  • Good Moral Character – Must show that he or she has been, and continues to be, a person of good moral character. In general, the applicant must show GMC during the five-year period immediately preceding his or her application for naturalization and up to the time of the Oath of Allegiance. Conduct prior to the five-year period may also impact whether the applicant meets the requirement.
  • English Requirement – Must demonstrate an understanding of the English language (ability to read, write, and speak words in ordinary usage).
  • History/Civics Requirement-Must also demonstrate a knowledge and understanding of the fundamentals of the history and principles and form of government of the United States (civics)

Attachment / Point of Understanding

Every applicant for naturalization must demonstrate attached to the principles of the Constitution of the United States. An applicant must be well disposed to the good order and happiness of the United States during the statutorily prescribed period.

What does Attachment mean? At its core, the principle of attachment requires an applicant to have both 1. An understanding and 2. A mental attitude of willingness to abide by the principles of the Constitution.

Simply put, an applicant must believe in the form of government of the U.S. and must believe in our country’s supreme law of the land, that is the Constitution.

At the time of being granted citizenship, a naturalization applicant must take the Oath of Allegiance in a public ceremony.

U.S. Citizenship Requirements

To be admitted to citizenship an applicant must:

  • Understand that he or she is taking the Oath freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion;
  • Understand that he or she is sincerely and absolutely renouncing all foreign allegiance;
  • Understand that he or she is giving true faith and allegiance to the United States, its Constitution and laws; and
  • Understand that he or she is discharging all duties and obligations of citizenship including military and civil service when required by the law.

The Oath of Allegiance

As set forth in 8 CFR § 337.1 every naturalization applicant must recite the following Oath of Allegiance:

“I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God.” 

Modified Oath

A naturalization candidate may request a modified oath that does not contain certain language in the oath clauses. To qualify for the modified oath, the applicant must demonstrate by clear and convincing evidence that the applicant is unwilling or unable to affirm to the required clauses based on either religious reasons, religious training, or religious beliefs. Keeping in mind that there is no exception from the clause “to perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law.”

If you are considering applying for naturalization and believe that you may require a modified oath, please contact our office for an in-depth analysis of your case to ensure you meet the requirements.

Naturalization Early Filing

A naturalization applicant that files under the general naturalization provision may submit the application up to 90 days before the applicant would meet the 5-year period of continuous residence as an LPR. Although an applicant may file early, keep in mind that the applicant must reach the required 5-year period for continuous residence as a lawful permanent resident prior to the naturalization applicant being approved. How is the 90 early filing period counted?  First determine the day the applicant would have first met the continuous residence requirement for naturalization. For example:

If an applicant would have met the 5-year requirement for the first time on July 1, 2020. The 90-day period begins on June 30, 2020 as day one. Continue the count for 90 calendar days. Using a date calculator can make the calculation easier and provide a more accurate date. In our example the earliest the applicant could file would be April 1, 2020.

Having the right attorney on your side makes all the difference in successfully acquiring citizenship through naturalization. The attorneys at Serrano Law Firm PLLC personally strive to ensure all clients are represented professionally and in a cordial manner. From the onset of the consultation all the way until the client receives the naturalization certificate our attorneys ensure each client understands the process and the requirements. Our attorneys apply years of knowledgeable experience combined with the intricate understanding of the laws to provide every case the best possibility to achieve the desired outcome. If you have a question or if you remain in doubt as to the details about your case, do not hesitate to reach out to us. We are here to help. Our success rate is a direct reflection of our experience and zealous representation of each and every client. Contact the Houston immigration attorneys at Serrano Law Firm PLLC today to secure the representation you deserve.