Obtaining Citizenship Through Naturalization
Naturalization is the process of becoming a US citizen. There are certain requirements that must be met in order for a foreign national to become a US citizen through naturalization. In general, the foreign national must have been a permanent resident for at least five years before proceeding. There are exceptions, however. Secondly, the foreign national must have “continuous presence” as well as “physical presence” in United States. The period of presence time required depends on how long the person is a permanent resident. Foreign nationals can break continuous residence if they are outside the United States for six months or longer. In addition to presence requirements, citizenship also requires a showing of “good moral character.” Good moral character is a higher bar than being a criminal, meaning that a person must have the social norms acceptable amongst the US community. The naturalization process requires filing with an N400 form along with required documents and an interview will be conducted by USCIS. USCIS will interview the foreign national to ensure that he or she meets the requirements and then it will recommend swearing in. It is at the swearing-in ceremony that the person actually receives a naturalization certificate.
Obtaining Derivative Citizenship
Some individuals will be eligible to obtain what’s called derivative citizenship. The person has essentially “derived” US citizenship from a parent or perhaps a grandparent who is a US citizen. Derivative citizenship is based on the law at the time the person was born. This area of law can become complex because many laws were passed and then superseded. As such, if a person has a US citizen parent or grandparent, it is worth pursuing investigation as to whether the person derived US citizenship from that relative. Under current law, many children under the age of 18 who have a US citizen parent(s), entered as legal permanent resident may be eligible for derivative citizenship under the Child Citizenship Act approved in 2002. Essentially, derivative citizenship means that a person does not have to go through naturalization. The person merely needs to apply for the proof of citizenship through USCIS by obtaining a certificate of citizenship or through the US Department of State by obtaining a US passport.
To get legal advice about citizenship or naturalization, please contact Denver lawyer Catherine Brown at 303-322-2117.