How to become a citizen of the United States

Lizbeth Potts, P.A.Immigration Laws, Lizbeth Potts, P.A. Tampa Attorney Legal Articles

A citizen of the United States
Citizen of the United States?

Citizen of the United States?

In order to determine whether you are eligible for citizenship, you have to be able to answer some questions and be willing to follow through with certain requirements to uphold and defend the United States.

  • Are you at least 18 years old?  In order to apply for citizenship, one must be an adult.  If you are under the age of 18, then your request will be under one of your parents’ applications for citizenship.
  • Are you a Permanent Resident and do you have a current Permanent Resident Card (a Green Card)?  Permanent Resident Cards expire after 10 years.  If yours is expired, you need to apply for a current one.  Some Green Cards do not have an expiration date on them.  Chances are the card is more than 10 years old.  If that is the case, you may still be eligible to apply for citizenship.
  • How long have you been a Permanent Resident?  If you are married to a US citizen, the marriage must be at least 3 years.  Anyone else that has a Green Card and wants to become a citizen must wait for 5 years before applying.
  • In the last years, you may have traveled outside of the US.  If that is the case, just make sure that the travel does not exceed 30 months.  If you are an employee of the US Government, independent contractor working for the US Government, or a missionary, priest, minister who performs such religious functions and that is recognized by the US, and have traveled outside the US for more than 30 months, there may be relief that you can seek in applying for citizenship.  Along with the above, you have to make sure that just one trip does not exceed more than 1 year.  If that is the case, you must make sure that you fill out an Application to Preserve Residence for Naturalization Purposes prior to your trip.
  • You have to have lived in the same place for at least the last 3 months.  Remember, it is your responsibility to inform USCIS that you have moved and your new address.  You can now do this online.  It is important that you keep your information- where you live- current with immigration services.
  • You must be able to read, write, and speak basic English.  There are exemptions to this rule, which will be determined by age and how long you have lived in the US since becoming a Permanent Resident.  Also, if you have a disability that prevents you from being able to fulfill this requirement, that will be taken into consideration provided the proper paperwork is filled out and submitted.
  • You are knowledgeable of US history and the fundamentals of US government.  You have to know basic information about US government working.  The USCIS provides study tools.  If you have a disability that would prevent you from being able to complete this requirement, the proper form and request would have to be submitted with your application.
  • You must be a person of good moral character.  Good moral character is determined on a case by case basis, but, if you have been involved in a murder or other serious criminal offense, chances are you have not passed the good moral character test.  If you admit to being involved with prostitution or human trafficking, willfully refuse to support your children or dependents, being involved in polygamy, being a drunk, you are not of good moral character and would not be eligible for citizenship.
  • If you are between the ages of 18-26 and are male, you must register with the Selective Service.  If you were in the military while a Green Card holder, you could not have deserted the military to eligible for citizenship.  You must be willing to serve in the military or perform some type of civilian service for the US in order to qualify for citizenship.
  • You must be willing to support the Constitution of the United States.  You also must understand and be willing to take an oath of allegiance to the United States.