3 Questions About Citizenship You Didn’t Think to Ask
One of the many ways an individual can become a permanent resident of the United States is through citizenship. An individual may acquire US citizenship through birth or through naturalization. In the following sections, I will answer some interesting questions about citizenships, eligibility criteria to file for citizenship and other requirements.
What are the Requirements to File for Citizenship?
A very important question that has recently come up concerns the requirements for filing for citizenship. There are multiple requirements. Firstly, you must be a Green Card holder. Sometimes, three years is sufficient if you are married to a US citizen. Otherwise, you must have been a Green Card holder for five years. Likewise, someone must be physically present and residing in the US for 51% of the time. If you have too many absences from the US, it will bar you from applying for citizenship and you will be required to wait until you have acquired the 51% physical presence in the US.
Finally, you must be able to demonstrate good moral character. This means that if you have been arrested for a serious misdemeanor or a felony, it will likely make you ineligible to file for citizenship. You must also possess the ability to speak and read English. This you will be required to demonstrate by taking the history and civics exam in English. There are certain exceptions, to this rule, of course. For instance, if you have been a Green Card holder for 15 years and you are 60 years old, you do not need to demonstrate your English proficiency. The same is the case if you happen to be 50 years old and have had your Green Card for 20 years. Both situations would deem you exempt from the English language requirement.
- You must be a Green Card holder, be physically present in the US for 51% of the time and be able to demonstrate good moral character, which is evinced through a lack of prior arrests.
- You must also fulfill an English language proficiency requirement, although there are certain exceptions to this rule.
Can a Prior Arrest Hinder a Citizenship Application?
Last week someone came to my office and posed a very good question. She was interested in applying for citizenship but they had three prior arrests. The first had been a DUI; the second, for shoplifting; and the last had been for a speeding ticket. She was concerned that these arrests would make her ineligible to apply for citizenship. As a general rule, if you have a minor violation, a misdemeanor or something fairly insignificant (and that includes shoplifting), it will not negatively affect your citizenship application.
However, if you were arrested for something of a grave nature, like sexual assault or dealing with drugs, that could adversely affect your ability to apply. It is very important that you obtain all certifications in disposition for any arrests that you have had and bring them with you to the consultation when you wish to discuss your application for citizenship. This will help your attorney to analyze the specifics of your case it and tell you if you will face a problem.
- A minor violation will not deem you ineligible.
- More grave crimes like assault, sexual offenses and drug crimes will affect your application negatively.
Can I Lose My Citizenship from Moving Abroad?
Just last month, I was asked a very interesting question. One of my clients who is a citizen of the US by birth, was planning on relocating to his home country. He anticipated the move to be permanent, with little likelihood of his returning to American soil. He wanted to know if he would run the risk of losing his citizenship once he left the country. The answer to that question is a resounding no. One of the terrific benefits of being a US citizen, be it by birth or by naturalization, is that you can reside in another country and never run the risk of losing your citizenship. A Green Card holder cannot boast of such benefits, for they are required to meet certain residency requirements. However, US citizens are different. You are always going to retain your citizenship, and you will always be welcome home unless you choose to relinquish your US citizenship.
- US citizens do not need to satisfy a residency requirement to retain their citizenship.
- US citizens will always remain US citizens unless they choose to relinquish their citizenship.
If you or a loved one is looking to gain citizenship to the United States, speak to one of experienced Immigration Attorneys in Morristown, NJ. Susan Scheer has over three decades of experience keeping families together. Contact The Scheer Immigration Law Group today to schedule a consultation.