San Diego Attorneys Discuss Requirements for US Citizenship

Some people derive citizenship from their parents or obtain it upon their birth in the United States. Others, who are born outside of the country to foreign parents, must follow a path to naturalization, which includes first obtaining permanent residency.

The requirements to become a U.S. Citizen depend on how one became a permanent resident. For example, the path to citizenship is different for someone who is the spouse of a U.S. Citizen than it is for someone who became a permanent resident through his or her employment.

Citizenship Requirements for Permanent Residents who are not Married to a U.S. Citizen

Becoming a United States citizen is much different than qualifying for a visa or qualifying for permanent residency. While all of these actions require applications and paperwork, becoming a United States citizen also involves being able to speak and read English, knowing about the history of the country, and proving that you will be an upstanding and moral person.

Specifically, the requirements include the following:

  • You must be 18 years of age or older.
  • You must be a green card holder for five or more years immediately preceding the time of filing the citizenship application.
  • You must live within your current state, or within the same USCIS district, for at least three months prior to filing the petition.
  • You must have continuously resided in the U.S. as a permanent resident for five or more years immediately preceding the time of filing the citizenship petition.
  • You must have been physically present in the United States for 30 or more months out of the last 60 months before filing the petition. You must not have had breaks of six months or longer, though in some instances a break of six to 12 months may be excused.
  • You must be able to read, write, and speak English unless eligible for a waiver.
  • You must have basic knowledge and understanding of U.S. history and government. There is a 100-question database of civics information that applicants for citizenship are expected to know.
  • You must be 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.”

Citizenship Requirements for Spouses of U.S. Citizens

While many of the citizenship requirements for spouses of a United States citizen are the same as above, there are two important differences:

  • You must have continuously resided in the U. S. as a permanent resident for three or more years (instead of five years) immediately preceding the time of filing the Citizenship petition. During this time, you must reside in the same household as your U.S. Citizen spouse.
  • You must have been physically present in the U.S. for 18 or more months out of the last 36 months before filing the petition (instead of 30 out of 60 months).

Become A Citizen With the Assistance of a San Diego Immigration Attorney

If you are a permanent resident who wishes to become a U.S. citizen, or if you live outside of the United States and dream of one day securing citizenship, we can help you understand the best path for you to become a naturalized citizen. Whether you are the spouse of someone with citizenship, or whether you hold a green card through another relative or an employer, our San Diego, CA immigration lawyers can listen to the details of your story and answer all of your legal questions.

To tell your story, ask a question, or schedule a consultation with a member of our legal team, please contact us today.

What are the advantages of becoming a United States Citizen? Read our top 10 Reasons to Become a Citizen.