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US Citizenship

Citizenship/naturalization is a permanent benefit with many privileges, including worry-free travel and the ability to participate in the U.S. electoral process. The Form N-400, Naturalization Application is currently 20 pages long, and consists of complex biographic and travel questions. It is imperative that all information is accurately and properly completed to prevent delays in processing and potential application denial.

You may be eligible to apply for naturalization if you are at least 18 years of age and have been a permanent resident of the United States:

  • For at least 5 years; or
  • For at least 3 years during which time you have been, and continue to be, married to and living in a marriage relationship with your U.S. citizen husband or wife; or
  • Have honorable service in the U.S. military.

In addition, you must also meet the following requirements:

  • You have lived within the state or USCIS district with jurisdiction for at least 3 months prior to the date of filing the application;
  • You have continuously resided in the United States as a green card holder for at least five years (or three years where applicable) immediately preceding the date of the filing the application.
    • Continuous residence means that you have maintained residence within the U.S. for the required period of time shown above. Extended absences of six months or more outside of the U.S. may disrupt your continuous residence.
  • You have been physically present in the United States for at least 30 months (or 18 months, where applicable) immediately preceding the date of filing the application;
  • You can read, write, and speak English and have knowledge and an understanding of U.S. history and government (civics); and
  • You are a person of good moral character, attached to the principles of the Constitution of the United States, and well-disposed to the good order and happiness of the United States during all relevant periods under the law.

If you meet the above requirements, you are eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship! Schedule a consultation with one of our knowledgeable attorneys to discuss.

Once you have filed the Form N-400, you will need to complete Biometrics, where USCIS takes your fingerprints and photograph for background checks. You will then be scheduled for an interview. Your interview will confirm all details in your application as well as administer the Civics exam. When you have passed all components of the interview, you will be scheduled for a Naturalization Ceremony where you will take the oath of citizenship and become a naturalized citizen!

Derivative Citizenship

Under the Immigration and Nationality Act (“INA”), individuals born abroad to one U.S. citizen parent may derive U.S. citizenship at birth if certain transmittal requirements are met.    

Basic Requirements for Derivative Citizenship

In general, a person born outside of the United States may acquire citizenship at birth if:

  • The person has at least one parent who is a U.S. citizen; and
  • The U.S. citizen parent meets certain residence or physical presence requirements in the United States or an outlying possession prior to the person’s birth in accordance with the pertinent provision.

Apply for U.S. Passport 

A person may apply for a U.S. passport with the Department of State to serve as evidence of his or her U.S. citizenship.  This can be done from either inside or outside the United States.  If you are located inside the United States, you may submit your passport application package at a passport acceptance facility located nearest you.  

If you are located outside the United States, you may submit your passport application in-person at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate nearest you.  Generally, this will also include an interview with a Consular Officer, however, processes may vary.  In either case, the end of the process is the same, successful claimants of U.S. citizenship will be issued a passport.  

Derivative Citizenship Passport Application Package 

Derivative citizenship claims are highly scrutinized and often turn on the strength of the physical presence evidence submitted.  However, if you are able and willing to gather the necessary evidence, we will guide you through this process and strategize to submit the strongest application package possible.  

As a full-service law firm, we work with you to gather the necessary documentation and draft a comprehensive application package to submit to the government.  These application packages include the requisite government forms, a detailed letter of support outlining your derivative citizenship claim, and corresponding evidence.  

There are two important categories of evidence that must be submitted:

  1. Evidence of U.S. Citizenship of Parent: U.S. passport, Certificate of Citizenship or Naturalization, Consular Report of Birth Abroad, or a U.S. birth certificate bearing the impression seal of the vital records office that issued it and including the date of filing.
  2. Evidence of U.S. Citizen Parent’s Physical Presence in the United States: Physical presence is notthe same as residence.  For example, if a person was residing in the United States, but left for vacations or schooling abroad, the person was not physically present in the United States during those periods of time. Evidence that may be submitted to demonstrate physical presence in the U.S. includes, but is not limited to:
    • Academic Records/Transcripts;
    • Employment Records, Court Records, & Social Security Statements;
    • Medical Records;
    • Rental Receipts; 
    • Military/U.S. Government Service; 
    • Travel Records; and
    • Affidavits from Friends & Family. 

Conclusion

Becoming a U.S. citizen is an important milestone that is not available to everyone.  As such, it is crucial that derivative citizenship passport applications are prepared carefully.  To be successful, each submission must include appropriate supporting documentation that establishes all transmittal requirement have been met for a person to acquire U.S. citizenship. 

If you are interested in applying for derivative citizenship or exploring your eligibility to derive citizenship, contact Berardi Immigration Law to schedule a consultation with one of our knowledgeable attorneys!  

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