Naturalization and Citizenship
Naturalization is the process whereby lawful permanent residents (LPR’s
or “green card” holders) become American citizens upon satisfying certain
requirements. Permanent residents do not automatically become U.S. citizens
after satisfying the naturalization requirements but rather, must apply for
naturalization and take the Oath of Allegiance; indeed, many permanent residents
elect to remain in the U.S. without applying for naturalization. Nonetheless, it
is wise for a lawful permanent resident to apply for naturalization as soon as
he or she is eligible because recent changes in immigration law make it easier
to strip a permanent resident of their status. For example, a permanent resident
who commits an aggravated felony may be deported even after residing in the U.S.
as a “green card” holder for many years.
To be eligible for naturalization, an LPR must be lawfully admitted to the
U.S., must have resided continuously in the U.S. for at least five years in LPR
status (or three years if married to a U.S. citizen), and must have been
physically present in the U.S. for at least half of that period. Also, the LPR
must be able to read, write, and speak the English language, and must exhibit a
basic knowledge and understanding of U.S. government and history.
The residency requirement can best be understood to mean that the applicant must have maintained his principal dwelling in the U.S. during the applicable five- or three-year period, so that even if he lives abroad for a portion of that period, the primary home where he lives is in the U.S. This is separate from the physical presence requirement, though the two concepts are closely related. There is an exception made for those who have served in the military and were discharged honorably during time of war, provided certain conditions are met. For these military service members, obtaining lawful permanent residency and maintaining residence are not pre-requisites for naturalization. More information about service members and naturalization is provided in our article: U.S. Armed Forces and Their Family Members.
Additionally, applicants for naturalization must be deemed to possess good
moral character. Therefore, prospective applicants for naturalization who may
have had any type of encounter with the law or who have a criminal history are
advised to see an immigration attorney prior to applying for naturalization. For
some, there may not be an obstacle to showing good moral character. Others could
find themselves facing the prospect of deportation instead of naturalization,
and, thus, may find it beneficial to refrain from applying for naturalization
Applicants for naturalization can usually apply in the 90-day period prior to
the completion of the five- or three-year residency requirements. After filing
the application, the applicant must maintain his residency in the U.S. (but not
necessarily physical presence) until he or she is sworn in as a citizen of the
United States. The children of green card holders may be able to naturalize
derivatively through the naturalization of their parents.
The Application for Naturalization (Form N-400) is filed along with the
appropriate supporting documentation with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration
Services (USCIS). After the application is received by USCIS and after the
applicant has been fingerprinted, an interview is scheduled with a USCIS
officer. The officer will verify the information in the application, question
the applicant regarding his eligibility for citizenship, test his English skills
and abilities, and conduct the short civics exam. Soon after the application is
approved, the applicant will be scheduled for the swearing-in ceremony, where
the applicant will take the Oath of Allegiance and obtain his Certificate of
Naturalization. With the Certificate of Naturalization, the new U.S. citizen is
eligible to apply for a U.S. passport.
The Law Firm of Antone, Casagrande & Adwers, P.C. helps individuals and businesses worldwide with all of their US immigration needs including employment visas, obtaining green cards for business and corporate employees and family members, visas for doctors, nurses, therapists, and other health care workers, together with waivers for physicians under J visa training program, labor certifications (PERM), national interest waivers, marriage-based adjustments and green cards, fiancee visas, family immigration preferences, students, naturalization and citizenship, including medical waivers, asylum, deportation, hardship waivers, voluntary departure and removal. We serve clients in southeast Michigan including the Detroit Metro area, Ann Arbor, and Lansing. With offices in Farmington Hills, MI, we are close to Southfield, Troy, West Bloomfield, Birmingham, Novi, Rochester and Auburn Hills in Oakland County; Canton, Plymouth, Dearborn, and Detroit in Wayne County; Warren, Sterling Heights, and Mount Clemens in Macomb County; Brighton and Howell in Livingston County; Lansing in Ingham County; City of Monroe in Monroe County, Ann Arbor in Washtenaw County; Grand Rapids in Kent County; Battle Creek in Calhoun County; Kalamazoo in Kalamazoo County; Benton Harbor in Berrien County; Holland in Ottawa County; Flint in Genesee County; Ludington in Mason County; Muskegon in Muskegon County; and Traverse City in Grand Traverse County, Michigan. Although many of our clients are located in the tri-county area of Wayne, Oakland and Macomb, we also serve clients in many cities and states in the U.S. including Cleveland, Toledo and Cincinnati, Ohio; Chicago, Illinois; Milwaukee and Green Bay, Wisconsin; Indianapolis, Indiana; Buffalo, New York; Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego, California; Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona; Dallas, Houston, El Paso and Galveston, Texas; Miami, Florida; Washington D.C.; Virginia, Minnesota, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and many others. In addition to the United States, we also serve Canadian nationals from numerous provinces in Canada, including Toronto and Windsor in Ontario; Montreal in Quebec; Halifax in Nova Scotia; and Vancouver, British Columbia. We also serve cities and countries such as London, England; Scotland and other countries of the United Kingdom (U.K.); Mexico, Paris, France; Frankfurt and Berlin, Germany; Tokyo, Japan; India; Brazil; Rome, Italy; Shanghai and Beijing, China; Belgium; the Philippines, and many other countries in Europe, Asia and South America.