In general, an applicant for naturalization must meet the following criteria (click here for our citizenship blog post):
- 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.
However, some of these rules contain exceptions:
What if I cannot speak, read, or write English well?
If you are 50 years old or older and have been a lawful permanent resident for at least 20 years, you may be able to take the civics test in your native language, and you can bring an interpreter to your interview. This exception also applies if you are 55 years old or older and have been a lawful permanent resident for at least 15 years.
Additionally, if you are 65 years old or older and have been lawful permanent resident for at least 20 years, you may be given special considerations when taking the civics test in your native language.
What if I do not think that I can take the English or civics tests because of a disability?
An exception to the English and civics requirements is available for individuals with certain physical or developmental disabilities or mental impairments. In order to request this exception, you must submit a separate form (Form N-648) signed by a doctor or psychologist.
We recommend that you consult with an Immigration attorney if you believe you may qualify for an exception on these grounds.
What if I cannot meet the continuous residence requirement?
If you have worked abroad in certain fields, you may be eligible for an exception to the continuous residence requirement. More information on this exception can be found at: http://www.uscis.gov/us-citizenship/citizenship-through-naturalization/continuous-residence-and-physical-presence-requirements-naturalization.
We recommend that you consult with an Immigration attorney if you believe you may qualify for an exception.
What if I have a disability that might make it difficult for me to appear at my interview or take an examination?
Accommodations and modifications can be provided for individuals with physical or mental impairments. You can describe these needs on the Form N-400.
My religion does not permit me to serve in the Armed Forces or use weapons. How can I take the Oath of Allegiance?
For individuals whose religious beliefs prevent them from taking part of the Oath of Allegiance, certain modifications or waivers may be permitted.
See http://www.uscis.gov/policymanual/HTML/PolicyManual-Volume12-PartJ-Chapter3.html for further information on these allowances.
For additional information on the above waivers and exceptions, please see: http://www.uscis.gov/us-citizenship/citizenship-through-naturalization/exceptions-accommodations
Contact our immigration law office at (206) 838-7628 to set up a low-cost immigration consultation.
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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.
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