What is Naturalization? A Closer Look

What does it mean to naturalize?

Naturalization is the legal process that a foreign citizen can choose to pursue to become a citizen of a new country. If an individual successfully naturalizes, they have become a legal citizen of a country that they were not born in.

What are the requirements?

To apply for naturalization, an individual must meet the basic eligibility requirements before filing a N-400 form (Application for naturalization).

-Is at least 18 years old prior to the date of filing
-Obtained a green card for at least 5 years with continuous residence in the United States
-Is able to prove residence for at least 3 months in the state that their application is being filed in
-Had physical presence in the United States for at least 30 months out of their 5 years of green card residence
-Must reside in the United States from the time that the application was filed to the time of their official naturalization
-Must be able to read, write, and speak basic English while obtaining knowledge of the US government and history
-Acquire a good moral character
-Must show a connection to the US Constitution in regards to the laws and regulations

What is the difference between physical presence and continuous residence?

For an individual to obtain physical presence they must be physically present in the US for at least 30 months out of their 5 years of green card residence. Out of these 5 years, at least 3 months must have been in the state that their application was filed in.

Continuous residence means that an individual has obtained residence in the US for at least 5 years prior to filing their N-400. An individual should not travel for more than 6 months during their continuous residence to avoid disrupting their residence requirements.

What is the oath ceremony?

After an applicant’s N-400 naturalization application is approved, an individual must take an Oath of Allegiance as their final step to citizenship. The Oath of Allegiance is a statement that an applicant will state at the Naturalization Oath Ceremony, voicing that they will follow and support the laws and Constitution of the US. The Oath ceremony can be completed on the date of an applicant’s interview if available, or on a separate date and time that will be distributed.


What is derivative citizenship?

Derivative citizenship is citizenship that an unmarried child under the age of 18 may receive when their parents naturalize. This citizenship is automatic at the time of the parent’s naturalization if the conditions are satisfied of the time of the child’s birthdate. A foreign born adopted child may also be eligible for derivative citizenship if the conditions are met.

What are the requirements?

To receive derivative citizenship as of February 2001, a child must be unmarried, under the age of 18, and have at least one parent who has naturalized. The parents of the minor child must naturalize before their child’s 18th birthday to qualify them for derivative citizenship. The minor child must also have a green card/ be a legal permanent resident prior to their parent’s naturalization and must be living with their parents under legal custody.

Adopted children must meet the definition of an adopted child through immigration laws. The adoptive child must have been adopted before the age of 16 and residing with their adoptive parents for at least two years. Adopted children will receive derivative citizenship if are under the age of 18, unmarried, have a parent who has naturalized and has legal custody of them, and obtains a green card/legal permanent residence.

What is acquisition of citizenship?

Acquisition of citizenship is citizenship for foreign-born unmarried children under the age of 18 through birth from US citizen parents. Acquisition of citizenship is granted automatically at birth if the conditions are satisfied and if at least one parent is a US citizen. There are different sets of criteria for children born in and out of wedlock.

What are the requirements?

For a child to receive citizenship based on acquisition they must meet the following requirements:

-Must be born to at least one US citizen
-Must be a minor under the age of 18 years old
-Be unmarried
-Obtain a green card/legal permanent residence
-Live with their parents under legal custody

If a child was born to two US citizens in wedlock, the US citizen parents must have been in the US at anytime before the child was born. If a child was born to one US citizen and one national parent in wedlock, the US citizen parent must have been in the US for at least a year before the child was born. If a child was born to one US citizen and one non-citizen foreign parent in wedlock, the US citizen parent must have been in the US for at least 5 years before the child was born and at least two of the years must have been after the age of 14 years old.

If a child was born out of wedlock to a US citizen mother, the mother must have been in the US for at least an entire year prior to the child’s birth. If a child was born out of wedlock to a US citizen father, a “blood relationship” between the child and father must be proved. The father must have become a US citizen before the child was born and took financial responsibility of their child until age 18. Before the child turns 18, the child must be under the father’s residence, or the father must show paternity of the child, or the court must declare paternity of the child.

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