How Do You Obtain Citizenship?

The Fourteenth Amendment recognizes “all persons born or naturalized in the United States” as citizens. The naturalization process is thorough. Having a citizenship lawyer by your side helps ensure a smooth transition from immigrant to American.

Although your specific path to citizenship may have certain requirements, don’t be overwhelmed or discouraged. There may be exceptions to steps in the citizenship process. Some of our attorneys are immigrants themselves and know how to help you overcome any obstacles you might face.

Citizenship Through Naturalization

Our citizenship attorneys help you file the citizenship application, ensure you understand the process and prepare you for your interview with a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officer.

The most common path to citizenship through naturalization is being a lawful permanent resident, being married to a U.S. citizen, or serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.

Although the process might be slightly different for each path, most people seeking citizenship complete include the following steps:

  • Form N-400: Lawful permanent residents and spouses of U.S. citizens should complete form N-400, Application for Naturalization.
  • Oral Civics Test: Although there are exceptions for age and ability, many immigrants answer questions about U.S. civics.
  • Language: Many immigrants applying for citizenship demonstrate a basic understanding of the English language. There are exceptions.
  • Lawful Permanent Resident: Generally, individuals seeking citizenship have lived in the U.S. for at least five years. Spouses of U.S. citizens should live in the U.S. for three years.
  • Physically Present: In addition to being a lawful permanent resident, you have remained physically present for at least half the time.
  • Strong Moral Character: It is helpful to have a clean background check and no history of criminal behavior or substance abuse issues.
  • Age: Certain naturalized paths to citizenship require applicants to be at least 18 years old.
  • Oath of Allegiance: The final step in the journey toward citizenship is taking an Oath of Allegiance to the United States of America.

Children under 18 who are lawful permanent residents become U.S. citizens automatically when their parents complete the naturalization process.

Citizenship Through Acquisition

If one or both of your parents are U.S. citizens, you may obtain citizenship at birth and after birth but before 18. There are different guidelines for children of U.S. citizens who live inside or outside the country.

  • Form N-600: Complete and file Form N-600 (Application for Certificate of Citizenship) for children of U.S. citizens born elsewhere but now live in the U.S.
  • INA-322: Complete and file the Application for Citizenship and Issuance of Certificate for children of U.S. citizens who live outside the U.S.

Legal Representation for Citizenship Applicants

Obtaining citizenship is a complex and time-consuming journey. Applicants should understand their rights and responsibilities within the immigration system. An experienced citizenship application lawyer in St. Louis helps you avoid legal and administrative errors that could delay the process.

Biometrics Appointment

The USCIS office may require biometrics as part of your naturalization process. If you use the facial ID security option on your cell phone, you are already familiar with biometrics. You will receive an appointment with the date, location, and time for a biometric appointment.

You may have an immigration and naturalization attorney accompany you.

U.S. Civics & English Language Test

Your naturalization journey might include an English and civics test. You should demonstrate that you understand reading, writing, and speaking basic English. You’ll answer oral questions about the U.S. government and critical historical events.

The American Immigration Law Group can connect you with additional resources to help you prepare for the citizenship test. We can also seek an exemption based on age or disability for one or both parts of the test.

Moral Character

A naturalization attorney can defend individuals who might be barred from citizenship from an alleged lack of “good moral character.”

We use every available legal instrument to overcome any obstacles to citizenship.

Naturalization Interview

A USCIS officer asks you questions about your application and background during your naturalization interview. Even if you have legal exemptions from the civics and English test, you must complete a brief interview.

Some of the questions might include why you want to become a naturalized citizen, your name, date of birth, and your background.

A St. Louis citizenship attorney may accompany you to the USCIS interview.

Dual Citizenship

There is no form or application to be a dual citizen of the U.S. and another country at the same time. However, each country has laws that place restrictions on dual citizenship.

A citizenship attorney helps you check for conflicts if you wish to seek dual citizenship.

Naturalization Ceremony

One of the last forms you’ll need to become a naturalized citizen is Form N-445, Notice of Naturalization Oath Ceremony.

At the naturalization ceremony, you will:

  • Return your green card (permanent residence card) to a USCIS representative.
  • Take the Oath of Allegiance.
  • Receive your Certificate of Naturalization, which serves as official proof that you are a U.S. citizen.