Q: Do I have to be a lawful permanent resident first before I can apply for naturalization?
A: In order to be eligible to apply for naturalization, you must first be a lawful permanent resident. If you are married to a US citizen and your spouse has been a US Citizen for three years and you have been living in marital union with him or her for three years, you are eligible for naturalization three years after becoming a permanent resident. Otherwise, typically, the requirement is you have to be a permanent resident for five years.
Q: What is the minimum age to apply for naturalization?
A: Generally, to apply for naturalization, the applicant must be at least 18 years of age unless the age requirement is waived for example such as due to military involvement.
Q: What is the current Filing Fee for Naturalization?
A: The current USCIS Filing Fee is $725.00, This includes the $85.00 for the Biometrics Fee.
Q: I stayed overseas for more than 6 months but less than one year in the last five years. The reason was illness and I was hospitalized resulting in my inability to return within the six month period. How will this affect my application for naturalization?
A: For naturalization, there is a requirement that the applicant demonstrate continuous residence for 5 years subsequent to obtaining permanent residence. Generally, any single absence between 6 months and a year within the requisite 5 year statutory period creates a rebuttable presumption that continuous residence has been interrupted. Because this presumption is rebuttable, you can present evidence to show that your continuous residence was not interrupted. For example, evidence that you had maintained your employment in the US, you did not obtain employment abroad, you retained full access to your home in the US and that your close family members continued to remain here during the period of your absence will be helpful. It will also be useful to provide evidence of your hospitalization showing that your inability to return to the United States within the 6 months period was due to illness.
Q: I had a re-entry permit and stayed abroad for more than one year during the required statutory period. I intend to apply for naturalization. Will it be denied?
A: Your naturalization application will be most likely be denied because any absence of more than one year during the period which continuous residence is required interrupts the continuous residence requirement. As such, you may be able to reapply for naturalization at least four years and one day after your return from that trip or two years and one day under the rules for spouse of a U.S. citizen. However, if the individual had filed N-470 Application to Preserve Residence for Naturalization Purposes and such application was granted, then the individual’s absence from the United States for a period of one year of more (for certain employment purposes) would preserve his or her status as an immigrant to pursue Naturalization.
Q: What are the exceptions and exemptions to the English Language requirement for naturalization?
A: The English Language requirement shall not apply to those who are at least 50 years and older at the time of filing and been a permanent resident for at least 20 years or at least 55 years and older and lived in the US as permanent resident for at least 15 years. In addition, those who can show that they are suffering from a physical or developmental disability or mental impairment which impairs their ability to learn English are exempt.
Q: My father is not fluent in English. Can he still pass the naturalization test as he does not qualify for the English Language exemptions and does not suffer from any disability or impairment which prohibits him from learning English?
A: For naturalization, the applicant must possess elementary level reading, writing and understanding of the English Language. The applicant must also have knowledge and understanding of the fundamentals of US history and government. If your father is at least 65 years old and has been a permanent resident for at least 20 years, he can take the easier test of US History and Government.
Q: My sister has been a permanent resident for 6 years and is eligible to naturalize. However, she suffers from dementia and is unable to learn the English Language and US History and Government part of the naturalization test. Can she apply for naturalization?
A: Your sister can file her N-400 Application for Naturalization together with the N-648 Application for Medical Disability Waiver. The Form N-648 must be certified by a physician and contain a full and complete description of the medical diagnosis including the DSM-IV Code (Diagnosis Statistical Code); an explanation of how the disability or impairment affects her ability to learn or demonstrate knowledge of the English Language and or US History and Government and the physician’s conclusion whether your sister is able to learn and demonstrate knowledge of English and/or U.S history and government. The Form N-648 does not require a Filing Fee.
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.
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. If you require advice or assistance, you may contact her at telephone number 713-623-8088 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case.