U.S. Naturalization

Naturalization is the process by which an eligible immigrant affirmatively applies for U.S. citizenship. An individual becomes a U.S. citizen after they have passed an interview and background checks, and they take the Oath of Allegiance administered by either a federal judge or other qualifying government official. The general requirements for naturalization are:

  • Five (5) years of permanent resident status (three (3) years if married to a U.S. citizen)
  • Continuous residence in U.S. for five (5) years
  • Physical presence in U.S. for two and a half (2 1/2) years
  • Demonstrate good moral character for at least the past five (5) years
  • Demonstrate ability to speak, read, and write basic English
  • Pass test of U.S. history and civics
  • Demonstrate attachment to the U.S. and Constitution

Waiver of English and History/Civics Requirements

There are some waivers and exemptions to the general requirement to demonstrate English skills and knowledge of history/civics.

First, there are exemptions based on age and length of residence. If you fall into any of these categories, you are exempt from the English language requirement and may have an interpreter with you for the interview and history/civics test. USCIS will not provide the interpreter for you, however.

  • Age 55 with 15 years of permanent resident status
  • Age 50 with 20 years of permanent resident status
  • Age 65 with 20 years of permanent resident status (this category benefits from a modified version of the history/civics test)

Second, there is a waiver available to individuals who are unable to learn English and/or the history/civics questions due to medical reasons. Common reasons may be dementia, Alzheimer’s, or severe depression. For this waiver, a qualifying medical professional must complete a form that details the individual’s medical issues and why they are unable to learn or retain English and new information.

Special Naturalization Programs

Certain veterans and current members of the U.S. Armed Forces are eligible to apply for naturalization based on their military service and are exempt from many of the typical requirements for naturalization. Spouses of members of the military can be eligible for some special programs as well, such as expedited naturalization if certain requirements are met. Our office is experienced in these special naturalization programs.

Naturalization can be a complicated process, so it is important to speak to an experienced attorney if you have any questions. An application can be complicated by criminal convictions, extended international travel, and issues from previous immigration applications.

How We Can Help

  • We assist you with completing the application and assembling the supporting documentation.
  • We represent you at your interview.
  • We assist with filing of responses to requests for evidence.
  • If your case encounters unreasonable delays, we communicate with USCIS and, in some cases, will file suit in federal court.

We welcome you to contact the Brian M. Wang | Whiteman Osterman & Hanna LLP to schedule a consultation about how we may be of service in your immigration matter. Based in the Albany, NY Capital District area, we assist clients throughout New York, in all 50 states, and worldwide with United States immigration law.

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