Citizenship and Naturalization
At Fernandez Law Group, PLLC; we help provide access to naturalization, so that greater numbers of legally qualified permanent residents take the important step to becoming United States citizens.
You may apply for naturalization when you meet all the requirements to become a U.S. citizen. Generally, you must meet the following:
1. Are at least 18 years of age (exceptions apply for members of the U.S. Armed Forces);
2. Have been a permanent resident of the U.S. for a specific amount of time (at least 5 years and 3 years if married to a USC);
3. Have lived within the state or USCIS district where you claim residence for at least 3 months;
4. Demonstrate physical presence and continuous residence within the U.S.;
5. Demonstrate good moral character.
In addition, a child under 18 may derive citizenship from their parents as they naturalize.
For a child under 18 to automatically acquire U.S. citizenship based on the naturalization of a parent the child:
1. Must have lawful permanent status;
2. At least one parent must be a U.S. citizen;
3. The child needs to be living in the U.S. in the legal and physical custody of your U.S. citizen parent.
Derivative citizenship may also be granted to a foreign-born child who is adopted by parents who are citizens of the United States.
Becoming a U.S. citizen has several advantages.For example:
• Right to Vote: Only a U.S. citizen may vote in local, state, and federal elections. Your vote is your voice as an American citizen—it’s your opportunity to be heard, to hold elected officials accountable for their decisions and to have a say in important issues that affect your community.
• Obtain citizenship for children born abroad: If you are a U.S. citizen and your child was born outside of the country, he or she could become a U.S. citizen automatically.
• Traveling with a U.S. Passport: As a United States citizen (USC), one can travel overseas with a U.S. passport, allowing you to get assistance from the U.S. government while overseas. In addition, as a USC the amount of time spent outside the country is not restricted, unlike an individual with Lawful Permanent Status—who may lose their status if they leave the U.S. for a certain period of time.
• Reuniting Families: Bringing family members to the U.S. Generally, citizens get priority when petitioning for family members overseas. • Cases of Illegal Activity: All United State citizens have a duty to follow the laws; however, it is beneficial to be a U.S. citizen in the event he or she is accused of an illegal activity. Legal permanent residents may be subject to deportation, normally resulting from criminal convictions.
• Financial Aid: Many financial aid grants, including college scholarships, and funds given by the government for specific purposes are available only to United State citizens.
• Government benefits There are many government benefits only available to U.S. citizens. For example, citizens have access to full Social Security benefits while permanent residents have access to only half. Citizens are also eligible for benefits such as welfare and food stamps.