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Citizenship and Naturalization

     A United States citizen refers to a native-born, foreign-born, or naturalized person who owes allegiance to the United States and who is entitled to its protection. You are a U.S. citizen if you were born in one of the fifty states. You are also a U.S. citizen if you were born abroad to U.S. citizen parents. If you were not born in the United States you may still be eligible to become a citizen through the naturalization process.
     Naturalization refers to the process of becoming a citizen of the United States. To be eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship you must be at least 18 years of age. You must be lawfully residing in the United States as a permanent resident for at least five years prior to filing with no single absence from the United States of more than one year. You must also have been physically present in the United States for at 30 months out of the previous five years and have resided in the state or district for at least three month prior to filing. The immigration attorneys at Brabazon Law Office can assist you in determining whether you are eligible to apply for naturalization. If you are eligible you will start the process by filling out and filing Form N-400 Application for Naturalization.

     Becoming a United States citizen means you will gain certain rights that you do not have as a permanent resident. These include the right to vote and the ability to apply for and obtain a U.S. passport to name a few. In addition, permanent residents risk deportation after having committed certain crimes whereas citizens do not.

The requirements for Naturalization include:
     • An ability to read, write and speak English
     • A knowledge and understanding of U.S. history and government
     • Good moral character
     • A period of continuous residence and physical present in the United States
     • Residence in a particular USCIS District prior to filing
     • Attachment to the principles of the U.S. Constitution
     • Favorable disposition toward the United States

Good Moral Character
     All people applying to become U.S. citizens must prove they have “good moral character.” Criminal activity can be a barrier to a determination of good moral character. For example, if you have been convicted of any aggravated felony you will be found to NOT have good moral character. On the other hand, simple traffic fines under $500 will not prevent a finding of good moral character. You should always be honest in your answers on any applications or petitions concerning your criminal history. Lying on immigration documents can also prevent a finding of good moral character. If you have any criminal record, no matter how minor, you should consult with an immigration attorney at Brabazon Law Office before beginning the application process.

The Citizenship Interview
     USCIS will schedule you to appear at an interview at your local USCIS office. During the interview you will be tested on your ability to read, write, and speak English, as well as your knowledge of U.S. history and government.

The English Test
     • You will be asked to read a sentence in English
     • You will be asked to write a sentence in English
     • Your ability to speak English will be determined by your ability to
          answer questions and speak to the official in English during the interview

New Naturalization Test: Vocabulary List for the English Reading Test
New Naturalization Test: Reading Vocabulary Flash Cards
New Naturalization Test: Vocabulary List for the English Writing Test
New Naturalization Test: Writing Vocabulary Flash Cards

The Civics Test
     • The civics test will consist of the official asking you ten questions about U.S.
          history and government.  You will have to answer six questions correctly.

New Naturalization Test: Civics (History & Government) Questions (English Version) 
New Naturalization Test: Civics (History & Government) Questions (Spanish Version) 

The Denial of Citizenship
     One of the most common reasons for denial of naturalization is the inability to speak English. There are two exceptions to the English requirements; a 20-year resident who is 50 years of age or older, or a 15-year resident who is 55 years of age or older. These individuals are entitled to citizenship without the ability to speak English. There is also an exception for those individuals that are unable to learn English for medical reasons if they present a medical waiver.

     Many individuals are also denied citizenship due to lack of good moral character. This normally occurs in situations where the individual has a minor criminal record or has been convicted of crimes involving moral turpitude.

     Some individuals can have their application reconsidered. In other cases an applicant must wait 3 to 5 years before refilling for citizenship. Still other crimes will result in a permanent denial. Determinations of good moral character are made on a case by case basis. It is important to consult an immigration attorney at Brabazon Law Office to determine the effect your criminal record may have on your ability to obtain U.S. citizenship.


Brabazon Law Office, LLC P.O. Box 11213 Green Bay, WI 54307-1213 Phone: (920) 494-1106 Fax: (920) 494-0501 E-Mail: brabazonlaw@msn.com

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