Citizenship and Naturalization

U.S. Citizenship




Lawful Permanent Residents who have maintained their LPR status for five (5) years, have been physically present in the U.S. for at least half of that time, and have not been absent from the United States for a continuous period of six (6) months or more during the five year period may apply for U.S. citizenship through a process known as naturalization.   Lawful Permanent Residents who are married to U.S. citizens may apply for U.S. citizenship after only three (3) years if they have continuously resided with their U.S. citizen spouse during the three year period immediately preceding the filing of their application and have continued to reside with their U.S. citizen spouse through the date of naturalization.


Application Process


Applicants for naturalization may file an N-400 application for naturalization with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services three (3) months prior to the five (5) year anniversary of becoming a lawful permanent resident or, in the case of spouses of U.S. citizens, three (3) months prior to the three (3) year anniversary of becoming a Lawful Permanent Resident.


In order to qualify for naturalization, an applicant must meet the following requirements:

  1. Applicants must be at least 18 years old

  2. Applicants must prove continuous residence in the U.S.

  3. Applicants must have no absences of more than six (6) months but less than one (1) year

  4. Applicants must prove physical presence in the U.S. 30 months out of 5 years (or 18 months out of 3 years)

  5. Applicants must reside within the state or USCIS district where the application will be filed for at least three (3) months before filing the application

  6. Applicants must document good moral character for five (5) years (or for spouse of U.S. Citizen 3 years) before filing.

  7. Applicants must pass a U.S. civics and English exam. (This requirement may be waived under certain circumstances.)


Lawful Permanent Residents who are under the age of 18 will automatically become a U.S. citizen upon the naturalization of a parent with whom the child is legally and physically residing at the time of naturalization.


As part of the N-400 application process, applicants are required to document every absence from the United States since becoming a lawful permanent resident including the dates of travel, length of time outside of the country, and countries visited.  Therefore, lawful permanent residents who are considering applying for U.S. citizenship in the future should keep track of any trips taken outside of the United States.


Please note that certain criminal convictions may not only make a person ineligible for U.S. citizenship, but may also subject the individual to deportation from the United States.  If you are a lawful permanent resident with a criminal record, please contact our office for a consultation prior to applying for U.S. citizenship to ensure that you will not risk being placed into removal proceedings when applying for naturalization.






Derived or Acquired Citizenship

Individuals who are not born in the United States may also derive or acquire U.S. citizenship through their parents or grandparents. Individuals who are born abroad to two U.S. citizen parents are automatically U.S. citizens. U.S. citizen parents of children born abroad should register the child’s birth with the U.S. consulate in the country where the child is born in order to obtain proof of the child’s U.S. citizenship.


U.S. citizenship law is very complicated and Congress has revised the rules for deriving citizenship from U.S. citizen parents over the years. Whether one has derived or acquired citizenship through a parent depends on a variety of factors including one’s birthdate, whether one or both parents were U.S. citizens, whether one’s parents were married at the time of one’s birth, and how long an individual’s U.S. citizen parent resided in the United States prior to one’s birth. In some cases, individuals who were born outside of the United States may also derive citizenship from a grandparent who is or was a U.S. citizen. If one of your parents or a grandparent is or was a U.S. citizen, please contact Ziemba Law Firm for an assessment regarding your eligibility for derived or acquired citizenship.