Naturalization and citizenship Matters
- The naturalization is the process through which an individual becomes a US citizen of the United States. The applicant has to meet certain conditions in order to be eligible to become a US citizen. A series of factors are considered:
- Length of residency in the US
- Length of trips outside the United States during the period of legal permanent residency
- Criminal background. The criminal background of an individual may affect his/her eligibility for naturalization, in that it affects the good moral character of the applicant. There are temporary bars and there are permanent bars to the application.
- Financial issues: child support, bankruptcy, payment of taxes
- Testing for knowledge of US history and society: In general, applicants are tested for knowledge of US history and civics and English language. There are certain exceptions: Permanent residents who are over 55 years old and have been legal permanent residents for over 15 years may test for US history and civics in their own language and the English language test is not required. Individuals who are over 50 years old and have been legal permanent residents for over 20 years may test for US history and civics in their own language and the English language test is not required. If an individual has an impairment and cannot retain information, he/she may obtain a certification from a licensed doctor attesting to the same. At that time, the applicant’s test will be waived.
- Age: the applicant has to be at least 18 years old in order to apply for naturalization on his own. If he/she is under 18, she will have to wait until turning 18, regardless of the length of residency in the US. The individuals under 18 years old may become US citizens automatically if the parents apply for naturalization themselves and obtain US citizenship.