What is Naturalization?
In general, naturalization is a process by which a foreign national (a person who was not born in the US) obtains US citizenship by fulfilling certain requirements. There are a number of naturalization processes, but the most common one is naturalization through marriage. When a foreign national, who has obtained a Lawful Permanent Resident status, (“LPR”), is married to an American citizen, the “LPR” becomes eligible to pursue an American citizenship. As magical as it may sound, the process of naturalization through marriage is a tedious process and is not given easily or automatically upon marriage, but is subject to a degree of scrutiny. An experienced immigration attorney can guide you through the complex process and procedural requirements. This is why it is best to contact an attorney that specializes in the field of immigration when applying for naturalization through marriage.
In Order to Apply:
The first set of requirements that needs to be met, in order to apply for naturalization through marriage, is that the foreign applicant needs to be living in the US as a Lawful Permanent Resident (“LPR”) for at least 3 years. In addition, the LPR must have been living in marital union with his U.S citizen spouse during the 3 years immediately preceding the filing date of the application for naturalization. Once you are sure that you have fulfilled these requirements, only then you can move forward and check the rest of the eligibility requirements. In order to submit such a request to the proper governmental department, you will need to have been living within the same State or the USCIS jurisdiction of naturalization for at least 3 months prior to the date of submitting the application. For example, an “LPR” who lives in California but is currently residing outside the US will need to enter the US, go back home to California, live in California for 3 months minimum, and only after residing for at least 3 months in California will he be able to apply for naturalization.
There are requirements to consider. In addition to the 3-year “continuous residence” requirement, the applicant must be “physically present” in the US for at least 18 months out of the 3 years preceding the date of filing the application. In addition, once the applicant has submitted his application for naturalization he will need to reside continuously within the United States from the date of application for naturalization until the time of naturalization.
After Submitting the Application
Once the applicant has submitted his application correctly with all the necessary documentation, the next step is to prepare for the interview. The interview will be conducted by an immigration official. Most of the questions that will be asked are regarding the applicants, the marriage, and personal background information. If the interview goes well, you will then take exams in English and a number of other subjects, like the study of the theoretical and practical aspects of citizenship.
If the applicant passes the interview, then the next step is to take the Oath of Allegiance. Taking the Oath signifies the applicant is a US citizen and is no longer considered an “LPR”. The “new” citizen will then be issued a Naturalization Certificate which will be the last step before receiving a US passport.
As you have just read, there are specific requirements that need to be met before applying for naturalization: Legal Status of 3 years prior to the application but immediately preceding the submission of the application, physical presence for at least 18 months out of the mandatory 3 years of continues residency, residing for a minimum of 3 month with in the same jurisdiction before applying, passing the examinations and taking the Oath. It would be prudent to speak with one of our experienced immigration attorneys if you are interested in naturalization.
All said and explained in this article does not constitute a legal opinion and does not replace legal advice. Responsibility for using the wordings and opinions conveyed in this article relies solely and entirely on the reader.
This article was written by Dotan Cohen Law Offices, working in the field of immigration law in the United States, Canada, Australia and England.