Table of Contents
1 General Information
2 How to Apply for Naturalization Filing the Application--Fingerprints Citizenship of Applicant's Children Examination on the Application Oath Ceremony
3 General Naturalization Requirements Age Lawful Admission Residence & Physical Presence Permission to be Absent (a) Employment by American Organizations (b) Employment by the U. S. Government (c) Service for Religious Organizations Character and Loyalty Communist Party and Similar Membership Deportation Literacy and Educational Requirements Oath of Allegiance
4 Naturalization Requirements for Special Classes Wives and Husbands of U.S. Citizens Marriage to a Citizen Marriage to a Citizen Stationed Abroad Overseas Assignment of Citizen Spouses Surviving Spouse of US. Citizen Service Member Naturalization of Children of Citizen Parents Naturalization of Adopted Children of Citizen Parents Former U. S. Citizens Veterans of Foreign Armed Forces American Women Who Married Aliens Service Members of the Military or Veterans Military Service During Certain Periods Ineligible Service Members Service for Three Years (1) When Three Years' Service Continuous (2) When Three Years' Not Continuous. (3) Application Made more than Six Months After Service Ends Mariners Employees of Organizations Promoting United States Interests Abroad Posthumous Citizenship
5 Naturalization and Citizenship Paper Lost, Mutilated, or Destroyed, or Where Name has been Changed
6 Declaration of Intention
7 Certificates of Citizenship for Children and Wives of Citizens
8 Legalizing Stay in the United States
9 Offices of the Immigration and Naturalization Service
General Information Part I
This booklet provides information in brief and plain language about the principal requirements for naturalization; the special classes of persons who are exempt from some of those requirements; and what a person must do to become a naturalized citizen of the United States. It also includes a brief discussion on how to obtain a copy of a naturalization or citizenship paper (part 5); how to file a declaration of intention (part 6); how to obtain a Certificate of Citizenship (part 7); and how to legalize an alien's residence in the United States so that he or she may be able to apply for naturalization (part 8).
The naturalization laws equally apply to both men and women and to all races. All persons follow the same procedures and become naturalized citizens of the United States in the same way.
An alien living in the United States must keep the Immigration and Naturalization Service informed of changes in his or her address. A lawful permanent resident is given an Alien Registration Receipt Card. This card has a number on it which should be shown in all applications and when writing to the Immigration and Naturalization Service about a case.
Anyone who cannot find the answer to a naturalization related problem in this pamphlet or who may desire any additional information, may obtain it from the nearest office of the Immigration and Naturalization Service. A list of offices of the Immigration and Naturalization Service appears in Part 9.
How to Apply for Naturalization Part 2
The requirements for naturalization that need fuller explanation are discussed in more detail at a later point. The steps to become naturalized, however, are the same for all persons and are set out below.
Filing the Application - Fingerprints
The first step is to get an application and, except for children under 14 years of age, a fingerprint card from the nearest office of the Immigration and Naturalization Service or from a social service agency in the community. The application to be used is Form N-400, "Application for Naturalization." For an optional procedure to gain citizenship for an adopted child of U.S. citizen parents (or parent, if single), see page 24.
The application, the fingerprint card, and the Biographic Information form if appropriate, which are furnished without charge, must be filled out according to the instructions and filed with the office of the Immigration and Naturalization Service with jurisdiction over the applicant's residence. Three unsigned photographs as described in the application must be submitted. A fee is required and must be submitted with the application. No currency should be sent by mail.
Citizenship of Applicant's Children
If a parent who is applying for naturalization expects to be naturalized before any of his or her children reaches age 18, it is likely that such children who are living in the United States will automatically become citizens. This would happen if the children's other parent already is a citizen, or is deceased, or if both parents are naturalized at the same time, or if the parents are legally separated and the parent being naturalized has the legal custody of the children, or if the parent being naturalized is the mother of the children and the children were born out of wedlock.
These children may obtain certificates of citizenship in their own names, showing that they became citizens on the same date that the parent was naturalized, by filing Form N-600, "Application for Certificate of Citizenship," in accordance with instructions on the form. The application must be filed after the naturalization of the parent(s). A fee is required and must be submitted with the application. No currency should be sent in the mail. The children involved who are over age 14 will appear before the naturalization examiner and must take the same oath of allegiance as is required of persons who naturalize.
Examination on the Application
After certain actions on the application have been completed by the Immigration and Naturalization Service, the applicant must appear before a naturalization examiner for examination on the application. The Immigration and Naturalization Service will advise the applicant when and where to appear for the examination. The applicant will be examined on the information submitted on the application for naturalization, and on his or her English literacy and knowledge of the form of government and history of the United States.
If the examiner finds that an applicant has not demonstrated eligibility for naturalization, the application will be denied and the applicant will be so notified. The applicant may request a .hearing on the denied application by filing Form N-336, "Request for Hearing on a Decision in Naturalization Proceedings Under Section 335 of the Act," according to instructions included on the form, and with the required fee.
After the examination has been completed and the application approved, the applicant will be notified to appear at an oath ceremony where the applicant will be sworn in as a citizen of the United States. The applicant may be able to choose to be sworn in as a citizen by a Service officer in a Service-conducted ceremony or by a judge of a competent court in a court-conducted ceremony. In the event that the applicant wishes to apply for a change of name, the applicant will be required to appear at a court-conducted oath ceremony.
Sometimes an applicant for naturalization is prevented by sickness or physical disability from appearing before an examining officer. When this happens, it may be possible to make other arrangements so that the applicant will not have to travel to a Service office or to appear in court. Further information about what should be done by such a person to become naturalized can be obtained from the nearest office of the Immigration and Naturalization Service.
When the applicant appears at the oath ceremony, he or she takes an oath of allegiance to the United States. In doing so, he or she gives up allegiance to any foreign country and promises to support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States.
When a large number of persons become citizens in a ceremony, it may not be possible to issue certificates immediately showing that they have been granted citizenship. In such instances, the certificates of naturalization are mailed to them later, or other arrangements for subsequent delivery are made.
General Naturalization Requirements Part 3
Applicants must be present in the United States, and must meet every requirement for naturalization in this Part and Part 2, unless they are persons who fall within special classes that are exempt from some of those requirements. These special classes are discussed in Part 4. The basic requirements for naturalization are set out below.
A person must be at least 18 years of age before he or she can apply for naturalization.
Only an alien who has been lawfully admitted to this country for permanent residence can be naturalized. This means that the alien must have been lawfully allowed to live permanently in this country as an immigrant. Not all aliens in the United States have been given this privilege. Some, for example, visitors, students, and seamen, have been allowed to come into this country only temporarily and, therefore, cannot lawfully remain here permanently. These persons do not meet the requirements of this paragraph. Neither does an alien who succeeded in getting into the United States unlawfully, such as by hiding convictions for serious crimes, or by deserting a ship, or by sneaking into the United States.
An alien who has been allowed to live here permanently as an immigrant loses that privilege, as well as the privilege of becoming naturalized, if he or she leaves the United States with the intention of abandoning residence in this country.
Caution: An alien who has been admitted to the United States for permanent residence and who established residence in the United States may choose to be treated as a nonresident alien for the purpose of gaining certain benefits under the income tax laws. In order to become a nonresident alien for that purpose, the alien must leave the United States and in doing so must intend to abandon residence in the United States. The intent to abandon may be formed also after the alien has left the United States.
An alien who chooses to become a nonresident for tax purposes may be considered as having also given up and lost his or her status as an immigrant under the immigration and naturalization laws. This could mean that the alien may become ineligible for an immigrant visa, or a reentry permit or other document, for which permanent residents are eligible; may become inadmissible to the United States if seeking readmission as a returning resident with a reentry permit, an alien registration receipt card or a returning resident visa; and may become ineligible for naturalization.
Aliens should give careful consideration to the possible consequences mentioned above, before deciding to claim nonresident alien status for tax purposes.
Residence and Physical Presence
After an applicant has been admitted for permanent residence, he or she must reside in the United States continuously for at least five years just before filing an application for naturalization with the Service.
At least the last three months of that five years' residence, immediately before the filing of the application, must also be residence in the State or Service district where the application is being filed.
The applicant is not obliged to stay in the United States during every day of the five-year period. Short visits may be made outside the United States, either before or after applying for naturalization, and may include as part of the required five years' residence the time absent. However, the applicant must be sure that:
(a) he or she is not absent for a continuous period of one year or more and
(b) he or she is not out of the United States for a total of more than 30 months during the last five years.
Generally, if the applicant is absent for one year or more at any one time during the five-year period just before filing the application, he or she breaks naturalization residence and must complete a new period of residence after returning to the United States. This means that he or she will have to wait at least four years and one day after coming back before he or she can be naturalized. Furthermore, if during the five-year period he or she has been absent for a total of more than 30 months, he or she will have to stay in the United States until he or she has been physically present for at least a total of 30 months out of the last five years just before filing an application for naturalization.
Permission to be Absent
Under certain circumstances, persons and their dependents who expect to be continuously absent from the United States for a year or more in work within one of the below listed classes may be given permission to be absent without breaking their naturalization residence. To obtain this permission, an application must be made on Form N-470, "Application to Preserve Residence for Naturalization Purposes," in accordance with the instruction on the form. The fee must be submitted with the form. No currency should be sent in the mail.
Persons and dependent members of their households who may qualify for this permission fall into three categories as discussed below. It should be particularly noted that there are important differences between the classes with regard to what is necessary to be eligible for the permission, when the application must be made, and whether the person may be considered to be physically present as well as residing in the United States during the absence.
(a) Employment by American Organizations. Such organizations include:
(1) American firms or corporations, or their subsidiaries, which are developing foreign trade and commerce of the United States.
(2) American institutions of research recognized by the Attorney General.
(3) Certain public international organizations in which the United States takes part.
To be eligible to obtain permission, employees within this class must first have been physically present in the United States for an uninterrupted period of at least one year after their lawful admission for permanent residence.
If possible, the application for permission should be filed before the applicant leaves the United States. It must be filed before the applicant has already broken residence by being continuously absent from the United States for as much as one year. It must be filed even though the employee has been issued a reentry permit to use to come back to the United States after the absence. The reentry permit alone is not enough to protect naturalization residence. Unless the application is filed and approved by the Immigration and Nationalization Service, absence for a year or more will break naturalization residence even though the absence may have been for employment by one of the above organizations.
Notwithstanding the fact that the Immigration and Naturalization Service may have granted permission for the absence and, therefore, the applicant's naturalization residence remains unbroken by the absence of a year or more, employees within this class cannot include the time they are absent as any part of the 30 months' physical presence required to qualify for naturalization. Care must be taken, therefore, to have been actually physically present in the United States for not less than 30 months of the five years just before filing applications for naturalization. The benefit of this section includes the applicant, the spouse and dependent unmarried sons and daughters.
(b) Employment by the United States Government. The requirements to obtain permission to be absent and the benefits of being granted permission are the same for United States Government employees and their dependents as for the employees of American organizations above, with one exception:
Government employees are regarded as physically present in the United States during the time they are absent with the required permission. They may include, therefore, as part of the 30 months' physical presence for naturalization purposes the time that, with permission, they are absent in Government employment.
Government employees who are to be absent for continuous periods less than one year do not have to apply for permission to be absent, and may count each continuous period of less than one year abroad toward the thirty months that they must be physically present in the United States.
(c) Service for Religious Organizations. Persons engaged abroad as priests, ministers, missionaries, brothers, nuns, or sisters by a religious denomination or interdenominational mission organization which has an organization in the United States and who are granted permission to cover the absence enjoy the same benefits that are granted to Government employees, including the right to count as physical presence in the United States the time they are absent with permission.
Persons within this class have the additional privilege of applying for permission to cover the absence at any. time. They may also be granted permission to be absent even though they have not yet completed a year of uninterrupted physical presence in the United States after their lawful admission for permanent residence. If they have not completed this year of uninterrupted physical presence, however, they must complete at least one year of uninterrupted physical presence in the United States before they can file their applications for naturalization. The benefit of this section is limited to the applicant.
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