Lawful permanent residents (LPRs) in the U.S. – also known as “green card” holders – may be eligible to naturalize, or become a U.S. citizen. To do this, an LPR must prove that they have lived in the U.S. for a certain amount of time; been physically on U.S. soil for a different amount of time; is not barred because of something in their history; can read, write, understand, and speak a sufficient amount of English; and can answer specific questions about U.S. government and history. Sometimes, depending on how old or how long someone has lived in the United States as an LPR, they may not have to meet all of these requirements.
Whether someone is eligible to become a U.S. citizen can involve complex legal analysis. As an attorney with significant experience in immigration law, Joanna can do this analysis, help people understand which requirements they must meet, and help them get excused from the requirements they do not have to meet.
Green card holders thinking about naturalizing should gather whatever information they have about when they have traveled outside the U.S. during the time that they have had their green card. They can also start studying for the test.
The Naturalization Test
Virtually all applicants for naturalization must be interviewed at their local USCIS office. The English test is in the form of being able to conduct the entire interview and discuss the entire naturalization application in English, read aloud one of three sentences written in English; and correctly write at least one of three sentences dictated by the officer conducting the interview. For many people, even native English speakers, this means studying words that may not come up in casual conversation, like “noncombatant” or “totalitarian”. Most people will have to take the English test, but some people may be exempt.
Almost all applicants will have to take the civics portion of the naturalization test as well. This means that, during the interview, the USCIS officer will ask the applicant up to ten questions; and the applicant must get six of the questions correct.
If an applicant fails the English, civics, or both portions of the test, they will have a second opportunity to take the test. Several preparation materials are available online to help people study. Materials can be accessed through USCIS at www.uscis.gov/citizenship/learners/study-test.
Why should I become a citizen?
Most people who have established their lives in the United States and are eligible should naturalize in order to ensure that all possible rights for individuals under U.S. law apply to them, that they have a say in their communities and their governments through the ability to vote in government elections, and to minimize any likelihood of their family being separated across borders. Nonetheless, naturalization may not be right for everyone. Call to schedule a consultation today, and we can analyze whether Naturalization is the right option for you.