Immigration law blog

Are you eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship?

For those who are eligible, citizenship provides benefits that lawful permanent residence does not. For example, citizens can file family visa petitions for parents and siblings, can obtain family visas for their spouses and children more quickly than residents, can vote in federal, state, and local elections, and are provided additional protection from removal (deportation).

To apply for citizenship, you must meet the following general criteria:

  • Have been a permanent resident for five years (OR three years if you obtained your green card through marriage to a U.S. citizen, have been married for three years, and are still married to and living with your U.S. citizen spouse);
  • Be at least 18 years old;
  • Have continuously resided in the United States for the last five years (or three years);
  • Have lived in the same state or USCIS service district for the last three months;
  • Have been physically present in the United States for at least half of the previous five (or three) years;
  • Be able to read, write, and speak basic English;
  • Be able to take a U.S. History and Civics test;
  • Be willing to take the Oath of Allegiance; and
  • Be able to prove “good moral character” for the past five (or three) years.

What if I left the United States for a long period of time after becoming a resident?

Absences of more than six months may cause problems for your case. If you have remained outside of the United States for over six months at any time since becoming a resident, you should consult with an Immigration attorney before filing your application.

Do I need to be fluent in English?

You must be able to read and write simple sentences (estimated at a fourth grade level), you must be able to speak English during your interview, and you must be able to take the history and civics test in English (with certain exceptions). Practice materials are available at: 

What if I have been arrested in the United States?

Certain convictions can make you ineligible to apply for citizenship. If you have EVER been arrested or charged with a crime in the United States, you should consult with an Immigration attorney before filing your application.

Contact our law office at (206) 838-7628 to set up a low-cost immigration consultation to see if you qualify.


L.I.H. Law is a trusted immigration law firm with our office conveniently located in Seattle, near the Seattle Space Needle (2nd Ave and Denny Way).

Our well-respected lawyers exclusively practice immigration law, covering diverse topics: asylum, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA), detention cases, fiancé visas (K-1 visas), green cards, immigration status for victims of domestic violence or other crimes, naturalization applications, and much more.

The immigration lawyers and professional staff at L.I.H. Law are dedicated to providing the right solutions to meet our clients’ immigration needs.  Our entire staff is fluent in Spanish and has served clientele from around the world.

Supporting our local immigration community is important to us. Our immigration lawyers and staff are active in volunteering for various community events and organizations, and conducting pro-bono work.

Kristin Kyrka

Kristin Kyrka joined L.I.H. Law as an associate attorney in 2014. She received her B.A. from Wesleyan University (Connecticut) in 2004 and graduated from the University of Washington School of Law in 2011. During law school, Kristin worked with the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project and the Washington Defender Association Immigration Project, and she served as a migrant farm worker advocate in Eastern Washington with Columbia Legal Services. Prior to joining L.I.H. Law, Kristin represented immigrant detainees facing removal at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, Washington. Kristin serves as a pro bono attorney with the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project’s Immigrant Families Advocacy Project, and as a volunteer for the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) Citizenship Day events. She is also active in the Washington Chapter of AILA, serving on the Asylum, EOIR, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement committees. Kristin speaks fluent Spanish.

L.I.H. Law, P.S., Immigration Lawyer, Seattle, WA