Immigration Services

CITIZENSHIP AND NATURALIZATION

At Garza & Associates, we know there are few better feelings than acquiring your U.S. Citizenship. U.S. Citizenship can be obtained by birth within the territory of the United States, or through parents with U.S. citizenship, or by naturalization.

NATURALIZATION

Naturalization is the process by which the United States gives citizenship to foreign nationals after they fulfill the requirements established by the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

If you are a Lawful Permanent Resident of the United States, you may be eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship under the following circumstances:

  • You have lived in the United States continuously for five years;
  • You have been a person of good moral character; and
  • You are able to pass the naturalization test demonstrating an ability to read, write, and speak English; as well as your knowledge and understanding of U.S. history and government.

If you are married to a U.S. citizen and have been living with your U.S. citizen spouse for three years after becoming a Lawful Permanent Resident, you may apply for naturalization in three years, rather than having to wait five years.

Applying for naturalization is a serious undertaking and should not be taken lightly. Our experienced attorneys can explain your rights to you. In fact, certain Lawful Permanent Residents are eligible to apply for naturalization without having to speak English or take the naturalization exam.

U.S. immigration law allows older applicants for naturalization to request easier versions of the English and civics exams than required of most applicants.

“50/20” and “55/15” Exceptions for Advanced Age
Two separate rules allow older people to avoid the English requirement entirely, and instead have the interview conducted with the help of a foreign language interpreter. These applicants will still need to take the naturalization test, but they will be able to take it in their native language, with the help of an interpreter.

“50/20” rule:
If you are age 50 or older and have lived in the United States as a permanent resident for at least 20 years, you can have the citizenship interview and the naturalization test conducted in their native language.

“55/15” rule:
Lawful permanent residents who are 55 years or older and have lived in the United States as a permanent resident for at least 15 years can have the citizenship interview and naturalization test conducted in their native language.

“65/20” rule:
Lawful Permanent Residents who are age 65 or older and have lived in the United States as permanent residents for at least 20 years can take an easier version of the history and government exam, and can answer the interview questions in their native language. A person who fits this category will have to study only 20 questions rather than the 100 questions that most applicants face. The applicant will be asked ten of the 20 questions and will need to answer six correctly to pass.

CITIZENSHIP THROUGH PARENTS

If you were born outside of the United States, you can acquire U.S. citizenship through your parents or grandparents under very specific circumstances.

The laws regarding acquisition of citizenship are one of the most complex areas of immigration law. If you were born abroad to U.S. citizen parents, you may be a U.S. citizen. Generally, a child may either be born a U.S. citizen (in some cases “acquiring” citizenship at birth) or derive U.S. citizenship through parents before age eighteen. A child born outside the United States to a U.S. citizen (mother and/or father) is also considered a U.S. citizen at birth, provided certain criteria are met. This process is generally called the “acquisition” of U.S. citizenship at birth through a parent or parents. The laws regarding children born abroad to U.S. citizens have changed drastically over the years, so it is crucial you determine the period in time in which the child was born in order to determine which law applies.

Through our extensive experience, our law firm has helped many clients claim their right to U.S. citizenship. This is especially crucial if you are in deportation proceedings. If either of your parents are U.S. citizens, you may already be a U.S. citizen without knowing it.

Our firm can help you navigate through the multiple strategies for proving that you are a U.S. citizen even though you were not born in the United States. Contact us to see if you qualify.

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