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ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS ABOUT CITIZENSHIP & NATURALIZATION

Sharlene Sharmila Richards

Sharlene Sharmila Richards

Q: My son just turned 18 years of age. He has been a permanent resident for the last 6 years. What is the age requirement to file for citizenship himself?
A: Generally, the applicant must be at least 18 years of age to file for citizenship himself.
Q: How do children become US citizens?
A: A child can became a US Citizen in several ways: First, children born in the US are US Citizens unless they are the sons and daughters of foreign diplomats. Second, children born outside the US where one or both parents are US Citizens may acquire US Citizenship at birth provided that the US Citizen parent(s) has satisfied the requirements relating to residence and or physical presence in the US for certain time periods prior to the birth of the child. These requirements are established by law in effect at the time of the child’s birth. Third, the Child Citizenship Act of 2000 provides that children under the age of 18 who were born outside the US may acquire citizenship automatically by derivation if they reside in the US as lawful permanent residents in the legal custody of a parent who is a citizen by birth or the parent became a US Citizen through naturalization. As such, upon the naturalization of a parent, these children including adopted children acquire their citizenship without needing a separate application and may apply directly for a US Passport. They may also choose to have proof of their citizenship status by filing Form N-600 for a Certificate of Citizenship. Fourth, those children of US Citizens who did not acquire their citizenship at birth abroad or derive it through the naturalization of their parents may obtain a certificate of citizenship upon application of the US Citizen parent if one parent is a US Citizen, the child is temporarily physically present in the US and was lawfully admitted in any status and is in status, under the age of 18 and has resided in the physical and legal custody of the US Citizen parent who has himself lived in the US for at least 5 years, two of which were after his or her 14th birthday.
Q: I have been working abroad for most of the past 5 years since I became a permanent resident. I had re-entry permit so I did not have to worry about losing my permanent residence. My employer now wishes for me to be based in Houston. Am I eligible to file for Naturalization?
A: In order to file for Naturalization, you must demonstrate that in the past 5 years, you have not disrupted your continuous residence in the United States. Any absence between 6 months and one year raises a rebuttable presumption that continuous residence has been interrupted. You may rebut this presumption using evidence such as not terminating your US employment, filed your Federal taxes for that year you were absent, retained your home in the US and that your family ties were here in the US etc. However, if there is an absence of one year or more, it shall disrupt your continuous residence for naturalization purposes even though you had a re-entry permit. There are statutory exemptions from disqualification for a one year continuous residence: an employee who has worked abroad for the US Government or for a US firm engaged in the development of foreign trade and commerce or for a public international entity for which the US is a member and who has obtained approval to preserve their residency by filing Form N-470 and has one year of physical presence in the US as a permanent resident is exempt from the one year or more absence disqualification. In addition to the requirement for continuous residence, an applicant for Naturalization must meet the physical presence requirement: he or she must be physically present in the US for at least one half of the 5 years or one half of the three years if the applicant is the spouse of a US Citizen. Lastly, the applicant must have resided for at least three months in the state where the application is filed. In your case, if you have not been physically present in the US for at least half of the 5 years, your application will be denied as you are not eligible to file. In addition to that, if any of your trips abroad have exceeded one year, then you have broken your continuous residence unless you are exempt from the rule and have filed your N-470 to preserve your residency.
Q: I failed my US History and civic portion of the citizenship test but passed the English portion of the test. Do I have to refile for Naturalization again?
A: No, you do not. If an applicant fails any portion of the Naturalization test, USCIS will provide the applicant a second opportunity to pass that portion of the test within 60 to 90 days after the initial examination unless the applicant is statutorily ineligible for naturalization based on other grounds.
Q: What do I need to do if I am unable to attend my oath ceremony?
A: If you are unable to attend the oath ceremony, you should send the Notice of Naturalization for Oath Ceremony back to your local USCIS office with a letter detailing why you are unable to attend. Your local office will then provide you with a new notice about your rescheduled Oath Ceremony.
Disclaimer: Any advice provided in this article is general in nature and not intended to constitute legal advice for any specific case. Please consult with an immigration lawyer about the specific circumstances of your case.
My Bio
Sharlene Sharmila Richards is a licensed Immigration lawyer practicing in Houston, Texas. She is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. She was admitted to the New York State Bar in 2000 and is a member of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals and a member of the US Supreme Court. You may contact her at telephone number 713-623-8088 or by email at srichardslaw@aol.com to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case.


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