Foreign Nationals Naturalized to become U.S. Citizens
There are circumstances where individuals born abroad can derive U.S. citizenship at birth. There are also various naturalization provisions that allow permanent residents (green card holders) to become U.S. citizens. Trow & Rahal immigration attorneys have expertise in citizenship law and assists clients in matters involving derivative citizenship and naturalization, including Citizenship Through Naturalization. Generally, permanent residents (green card holders) age 18 or older who meet all eligibility requirements for naturalization are able to apply.
Citizenship Through Naturalization
Foreign nationals can be naturalized to become U.S. citizens upon fulfilling specific citizenship requirements. In most cases, an applicant for naturalization must be a permanent resident (green card holder) before filing. And naturalization can only be granted if the person is in the United States, except for certain U.S. military members and their dependents.
A person may be eligible to file for naturalization if he or she:
- has been a permanent resident for at least 5 years and meets all other eligibility requirements for naturalization.
- has been a permanent resident for 3 years or more and meets all eligibility requirements to file as a spouse of a U.S. citizen.
- has qualifying service in the U.S. armed forces and meets all other eligibility requirements for naturalization.
A person’s child may qualify for naturalization if the person is a U.S. citizen, the child was born outside the U.S., the child is currently residing outside the U.S., and all other eligibility requirements are met.
Derivative Citizenship Through Parents
If eligible, a child born outside of the U.S. to a U.S. citizen parent or parents can “acquire” or “derive” U.S. citizenship depending upon the law in effect when the child was born.
These laws have changed over the years, but usually require a combination of at least one parent being a U.S. citizen when the child was born and having lived in the U.S. or its possessions for a period of time. Additionally, children born outside the United States may become citizens after birth based on their parent’s citizenship or naturalization. Trow & Rahal has extensive knowledge of the ever changing laws surrounding derivative citizenship through parents.
Naturalization for Spouses of U.S. Citizens
A spouse of a U.S. citizen, in general, can qualify for naturalization if the spouse has been a permanent resident (green card holder) for at least 3 years, has been living in marital union with the same U.S. citizen spouse during such time, and meets all other eligibility requirements for naturalization. In certain cases, spouses of U.S. citizens employed abroad may qualify for naturalization even if they do not meet the 3 year requirement. Contact Trow & Rahal for more information on naturalization for spouses of U.S. citizens.
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