Citizenship is an important legal right. It helps immigrants keep their families together and make long-term plans for the future. Learn more about the different methods of obtaining U.S. citizenship – and how a citizenship attorney in Hinsdale, Illinois, can help increase your chances of having a successful citizenship application.
The most common method of obtaining citizenship is to apply after five years of lawful permanent residence (also known as having a “green card”). This process is called naturalization. The five-year period can be reduced to three years for green card holders who have been married to an American citizen for the entire three years.
Unlike obtaining a visa or a green card, citizenship by naturalization does not require a sponsor. The applicant establishes citizenship on his or her own merits by passing examinations. Because of this, some applicants feel they do not need to consult an immigration lawyer about the process. But there are still critical legal issues that could delay your citizenship application – or get it denied altogether.
One common issue involves the required background check. If you have prior convictions or other legal issues, these could raise questions about whether you are eligible for citizenship. Immigration authorities might question the legitimacy of any marriage that is the basis of a shortened three-year application. An immigration lawyer can help you address these issues effectively in order to prevent unnecessary delays – or worse, an outright denial – of your citizenship application.
Once a parent becomes a naturalized citizen, their minor children are also eligible for automatic citizenship. This is known as “derivative citizenship.” In order to be eligible, a child under the age of eighteen must have at least one parent who is a U.S. citizen. They must also be a lawful permanent resident of the United States and be in the legal and physical custody of a parent who is a U.S. citizen.
Certain children can obtain U.S. citizenship even if they were born outside of the United States. Eligible children can “acquire” U.S. citizenship if both parents were citizens and married at the time the child was born. If one parent was a citizen, a child can still be eligible for acquired citizenship under certain circumstances. These criteria have changed over the years. The criteria that apply to your child will depend on the date he or she was born, so it is important to consult with a citizenship lawyer to know which laws apply to your particular situation. Acquired citizenship can be documented by filing Form N-600 with the appropriate immigration authorities.
The experienced immigration lawyers at Minsky, McCormick & Hallagan have helped many immigrants in the Chicago area obtain citizenship. Contact us to schedule a consultation with an experienced citizenship attorney in Hinsdale, Illinois, as soon as possible.