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Benefits of U.S. Citizenship

U.S. citizens have the right to vote in elections, serve on juries, hold public office, and have the right to apply for certain federal and state government jobs.  Another benefit of becoming a U.S. citizen is bringing family members to the U.S. Family members of U.S. citizens generally get priority when petitioning to bring family members permanently to this country. 


If a lawful permanent resident wishes to become a U.S. citizen, if eligible he or she may apply for citizenship through a process called naturalization. If the application for naturalization is granted, the applicant will be required to attend an Oath Ceremony where he or she will be required to take an Oath of Allegiance to the U.S. and be sworn in as a U.S. citizen.  The applicant is issued a Naturalization Certificate at the ceremony.


  • Be a lawful Permanent Resident for at least 5 years, (or 3 years, if married to and living with a U.S. citizen)
  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Be able to demonstrate Good Moral Character during the requisite period (if you have a criminal history, are on probation, or have been in deportation proceedings before, you should consult with a qualified immigration attorney before you submit your application)
  • Ability to speak and write English (there are certain exceptions depending on your age and how long you have been a lawful permanent resident)
  • Answer 6 out of 10 questions correctly on a Civics Test
  • Demonstrate Continuous Residence in the U.S. for the past 3 or 5 years (any absence for more than 6 months or more will generally break continuous residence)
  • Demonstrate Continuous Physical Presence in the U.S. for at least 51% of the last 3 or 5 years
  • If the application for Naturalization is approved, the applicant will be required to take an Oath of Allegiance to the U.S.. If your religious views prevent you from taking certain oath requirements, you may apply for an exemption.


After the application and fee are submitted to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, a the applicant will be required to attend a biometrics appointment (fingerprint and photograph appointment) and undergo a name and background check.  The applicant will then be scheduled to attend an interview before an Immigration Services Officer (ISO) at the local field office of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.  During the interview, the ISO will question the applicant as to his or her eligibility for naturalization and administer the English and Civics tests.  The applicant will be informed if he or she passed the test and whether his or her application will be recommended for approval.  If additional information or documentation is required, the ISO must issue a Request for Evidence (RFE).  The applicant will be required to submit the additional evidence, and afterwards, a decision will be made.

Acquisition of and Derivative Citizenship

In certain cases, if one or both of the parents is a U.S. citizen, the children of the U.S. citizen parent may be able to acquire citizenship from their parent.  In some cases, you may be able to acquire citizenship from a U.S. citizen grandparent.  If successful, the child is considered a U.S. citizen since birth, even if born abroad, and is issued a Certificate of Citizenship. There are specific laws for acquiring citizenship and these laws have changed throughout the last century.  The applicable law is determined by the acquiring child’s date of birth.  If one or both of your parents is was a U.S. citizen at the time of your birth or later became a U.S. citizen, please contact us for a consultation to determine if you are eligible to acquire U.S. citizenship.


Often demonstrating that you have acquired citizenship can be difficult because the evidence in support of the claim may be unavailable or hard to obtain.  At Nanya Thompson Law, we have extensive experience in assisting individuals locate sufficient evidence in support of their claim to citizenship.  We are committed to helping you through the process by identifying potential claims and evidence sources as well as obtaining the necessary documentation.   It is important that you have a dedicated attorney on your side who has knowledge and experience to guide you.  If you are your relative believe they may have a claim to U.S. citizenship, please contact us.


If the child claiming U.S. citizenship is living outside the U.S., the child may still be eligible to obtain a Certificate of Citizenship.   If the child residing outside the U.S. and is eligible to acquire U.S. citizenship, the child may apply for a Consular Birth Report from Abroad.


There are many strategies for applying for U.S. citizenship including filing an application for a U.S. passport at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate or applying for a certificate of citizenship before U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.   Please contact us to determine the best strategy in your case.

Naturalization Based on Service in the U.S. Military

If you served in the U.S. armed forces during any period of hostility, including the War on Terrorism, you may be eligible to naturalize within a shorter period of time after becoming a lawful permanent resident. If you never became a lawful permanent resident but served in the U.S. armed forces during a period of hostility, you may be eligible to naturalize directly without having to first apply for permanent residency status.  At Nanya Thompson Law, we recognize the sacrifices members of the military and their family members make and are dedicated to assisting active and retired military personnel. 


If your naturalization application is denied, you may appeal the denial within 30 days of the date of the decision denying your application.  Prior to applying, the applicant should speak to a qualified immigration attorney to determine if an appeal is a viable option.  At Nanya Thompson Law, we have successfully appealed the denial of applications for naturalization.  Please contact us to determine if an appeal is recommended in your case. 

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