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How Do I Know if I am Eligible to Apply for U.S. Citizenship?

Are you considering applying for American citizenship? There are certain requirements that you must satisfy in order to be eligible. As explained by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), a lawful permanent resident (green card holder) will not be approved for citizenship unless all criteria are met. Here, our Oregon citizenship attorney explains the key points to know about eligibility for American citizenship. 

An Overview of the Eligibility Criteria to Apply for U.S. Citizenship

  1. You Must Hold a Green Card for At Least Five Years (With Limited Exceptions)

To start, it is imperative that you recognize that you cannot apply for American citizenship right away. Before you can apply to become a naturalized citizen, you need a green card. Also known as lawful permanent residency, a green card allows a person to live and work in the U.S. on a permanent basis. You must have a green card in good standing for at least five years before you will become eligible to apply for American citizenship. 

The Exception: If you obtained a green card through a spousal visa, you may become eligible to apply for American citizenship in just three years. 

  1. You Must Have Continuously Lived/Resided Within the United States During that Period

You cannot simply leave the U.S. after getting a green card and still apply for citizenship. Staying within the U.S.—for the purposes of your living/residency—is crucial. To be clear, this certainly does not mean that you can never leave the country. Instead, it means that you need to make the United States―whether Portland, OR, or otherwise—your primary home. A trip outside the U.S. that lasts for longer than six months could lead to a denial of a citizenship application. 

  1. You Must Possess Good Moral Character

While the concept of “good moral character” might sound a bit old-fashioned, it is one of the most important criteria to become an American citizen. Broadly explained, a person who is applying for U.S. citizenship must prove that they follow laws and contribute positively to our society. Among other things, this means paying your taxes, avoiding crimes, and otherwise living a life of integrity. 

  1. You Must Pass an English Language Test and an American Civics Test

Finally, you will need to pass two tests to become an American citizen. The first is an English language test. You must prove that you have the basic proficiency to speak, write, and read English. Next, you will need to pass a civics exam that covers U.S. history and government. These tests are designed to ensure you can participate fully in American society. 

Contact Our Oregon Citizenship Lawyer Today

At Vanderwall Immigration, our Oregon immigration attorney has extensive experience handling citizenship cases. If you have any specific questions about eligibility for citizenship, we can help. Contact us today for your completely confidential initial appointment. With offices in Salem and Beaverton, we handle citizenship cases throughout the wider region. Si hablamos Español.