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Citizenship Frequently Asked Questions

Below you will find a list of 10 common asked questions about citizenship. If there are other questions that you have and would like to know the answer please contact the immigration lawyers for more information.

  1. What are the basic requirements that I must meet before I can apply to become a U.S. citizen?
  2. Am I eligible to obtain dual citizenship?
  3. How long does it take to become a U.S. Citizen?
  4. Can I live overseas after I become a citizen?
  5. What are the filing fees associated with an application for citizenship?
  6. What should I do if I cannot attend my oath ceremony?
  7. Does my child automatically become a U.S. citizen after I am naturalized?
  8. What are some of the benefits of becoming a citizen?
  9. If I don’t speak English fluently can I take the exam in another language.
  10. What can I expect from the history exam?

1.What are the basic requirements that I must meet before I can apply to become a U.S. citizen?

In order to apply for citizenship (often called naturalization) you must meet all of the following requirements:

  • Be a lawful permanent resident of the United States (green card holder);
  • Be 18 years of age or older;
  • Have been a permanent resident for at least five years (only three years if married to a U.S. citizen);
  • Be a person of good moral character;
  • Have been physically present in the U.S. for at least half of the five years;
  • Not have been absent from the U.S. for more than one year. Absences of more than six months, however, create a presumption that you have abandoned your permanent residency; and
  • Have a basic understanding of written and spoken English and U.S. history.

2. Am I eligible to obtain dual citizenship?

Maybe. The United States allows citizens of other countries to hold dual citizenship. You also need to check the laws of your home country to make sure that it allows dual citizenship as well.

3. How long does it take to become a U.S. Citizen?

It depends. Current processing times are between 9 and 12 months for a final decision to be made and for an oath ceremony to be scheduled. Each applicant, however, must go though fingerprinting and background checks. These background checks my take several months, or even years, to complete.

4. Can I live overseas after I become a citizen?

Yes. The United States does not place any restrictions on U.S. citizens wanting to live abroad, and you do not run the risk of losing your citizenship.

5. What are the filing fees associated with an application for citizenship?

The current filing fees are $330 for the citizenship application and $70 for fingerprints. Immigration Services has issued a new fee schedule that goes into effect on July 30, 2007. On that date, the total for fingerprints and filing fees will be $675.

6. What should I do if I cannot attend my oath ceremony?

If you are unable to attend the oath ceremony, you should return the “Notice of Naturalization Oath Ceremony” that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) sent you, along with a letter explaining why you cannot attend the ceremony. Your local office will reschedule and send you a new “Notice of Naturalization Oath Ceremony” to advise you of your new ceremony date.

7. Does my child automatically become a U.S. citizen after I am naturalized?

In most cases, your natural or adopted child is a citizen if the following are true:

  • The other parent is also naturalized, or you are the only surviving parent (if the other parent is deceased), or you have legal custody (if you and the other parent are legally separated or divorced).
  • The child was under 18 when the parent(s) naturalized.
  • The child was not married when the parent(s) naturalized and the child was a permanent resident before his or her 18th birthday.

8. What are some of the benefits of becoming a citizen?

A: Naturalized American citizens have many rights, including the right to vote, to hold public office (except that of the Vice-President or President), to extend U.S. citizenship to their children, and to obtain visas for immediate relatives.

9. If I don’t speak English fluently can I take the exam in another language.

It depends. The English language requirement is only waived for persons meeting the following criteria: If you are over the age of 50 and have been a permanent resident for 20 years or more, or if you are over the age of 55 and have been a permanent resident for 15 years or more.

10. What can I expect from the history exam?

The U.S. government wants you to be knowledgeable about U.S. history and government structure. The questions range from U.S. history to naming current government officials. While there are 100 possible questions that may be asked, you will likely be asked only 10 or so. The test may be given orally or in writing.

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