Requirements for U.S. Citizenship FAQs | FitzGerald Law Company
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U.S. Citizenship – Naturalization FAQs

 

1. What are the main benefits of becoming a US citizen?

Citizenship benefits include the right to vote in all government elections (federal, state and local), the right to travel and remain outside the U.S. for periods longer than 180 continuous days, and the right to confer citizenship status on certain family members immediately, such as minor children. Citizens can also petition for parents and siblings while residents cannot, and spouses and children of U.S. citizens are eligible to receive a green card (residency) with shorter waiting periods than for family members (remove those) those of residents.

2. When should I apply for citizenship?

As soon as you qualify for it. Residents share virtually all of the obligations to the U.S. that all citizens have (i.e. the obligation of paying taxes on worldwide income, etc.), but do not have many of the important citizen rights and immigration benefits discussed in question No. 1. In addition, residency status can be lost (and be very difficult to regain), while citizenship cannot.

3. What are the general requirements to become a US citizen?

In most situations, a person is eligible to apply for Naturalization, if they meet the following requirements:

  • Applicant has been a lawful permanent resident for five years (or three years for spouses of United States Citizens)
  • Applicant is 18 years old
  • Applicant is of good moral character
  • Applicant can speak, read, and write English
  • Applicant must pass a test on U.S. history and government
  • Applicant was physically present in the U.S. at least half the requisite time
  • Applicant has maintained lawful permanent residence continuously
  • Applicant swears loyalty to the U.S. by taking an oath of allegiance

(Note: minor children of U.S. naturalization applicants may also be eligible and included in a naturalization application, under certain circumstances)

 

4. How much time can one spend outside of the country to still be eligible to apply for naturalization?

You cannot be outside the US for more than 180 continuous days, however, this is not the only requirement. You must permanently reside in the US which is not set by an established number of days, rather, by your conduct and activities. For example, if you sell your house in the US and purchase a house in another country, accept a job in another country, and enroll your children in school in another country; even though you have been outside the US for a short period of time, for purposes of immigration, you may have established your residency outside the US and therefore lost your legal permanent resident status.

5. How long is the US citizenship application process, and how long after the interview will I be sworn-in?

Generally the process takes 4-12 months, depending upon the region of the country where you are filing. If you are approved, you will be sworn in between two weeks and two months after your interview, depending upon the region of the country where you are and the availability of resources at the time.

6. Can I apply for naturalization while my application for removal of residency conditions, I-751, is still pending, if I fulfill the 3 year requirement based on my marriage to a US citizen?

Yes, you may do so, as long as you meet all the other naturalization requirements.

7. I got my green card by marrying a US Citizen, but we are no longer married. Can I apply for citizenship after 3 years of having my legal permanent residency or do I have to wait 5 years?

In order to obtain citizenship after only 3 years with permanent resident status, you must continue to be married to a US Citizen, otherwise you have to wait 5 years with legal permanent residency.

8. Can I still be eligible for US citizenship if I have been arrested or charged with a crime?

It depends on several factors such as the crime that you have been charged with, the basis of the charge, whether or not you have been convicted, and whether or not you have been sentenced. Some criminal activity will render you ineligible for citizenship, while other will not. An immigration attorney with criminal experience will be best suited to help you determine if you are eligible to file for naturalization and should be consulted, if you have had a criminal charge and are interested in applying for US citizenship.

9. I don’t speak English well, do I still have to take the language and civics exam, or are there any exceptions?

There are only a few exceptions. You do not have to take the English test and may take the civics test in the language of your choice if you fit into one of the following categories:

  1. If you are age 50 or older and have lived in the United States as a Permanent Resident for periods totaling at least 20 years.
  2. If you are age 55 or older and have lived in the United States as a Permanent Resident for periods totaling at least 15 years.
  3. If you are age 65 or older and have lived in the United States as Permanent Resident for periods totaling at least 20 years you may take an abbreviated civics exam.

To qualify for one of these exceptions, your time as a Permanent Resident does not have to be continuous. You are eligible for the exemption as long as your total time residing in the United States (as a Permanent Resident) is at least 15 or 20 years. Remember your time as a conditional resident counts towards this time as well.
You may also be able to qualify for a language and civics test exception if you have extraordinary health conditions.

If you are located in or coming to Massachusetts or surrounding areas and need assistance processing your immigration petition, personal injury claim or criminal matter, call to make an appointment with one of our experienced Boston immigration, criminal and personal injury lawyers, at: (617) 303-2600.

 

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The information contained in this Web site is general in nature and subject to change at any point in time. As such, it may not necessarily apply to all situations. Therefore, under no circumstance it should be construed as legal advice. Please ensure that you consult with an attorney regarding your specific situation before starting a legal process.

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I really like that they speak so many languages and can help anyone!

FitzGerald Law Company recently handled my immigration case for me and everything turned out great! The staff is excellent all the way from the secretary and assistant all the way up to the attorney. My attorney was Desmond Fitzgerald himself and he was excellent.

Swarsatie R.

They have been very supportive and professional

My family and I have had an excellent experience with Desmond and his team at FitzGerald Law Company. They have been very supportive and professional, addressing our every concern. I feel fortunate to have found them and worked with them on my son's immigration case.

Yoseph A.

Highly recommend their services

My husband and I reached out to FitzGerald Law Company, and we can only speak very highly of them. Very professional & reliable. I want to say big thanks to Desmond and Zrinka, who helped us throughout my immigration process. Highly recommend their services!

Natasha A.

They are on top of everything

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Patricia M.

The service was efficient, professional and precise

I highly recommend Fitzgerald law company. The service was efficient, professional and precise. My lawyer, Juan Congote, helped me get through the green card process. I had zero problems and it was very fast. Juan was very meticulous with the documents until the very end. I really liked that!

Valerio B.

A very well organized firm, experienced and professional.

My experience was exceptionally great. A very well organized firm, experienced and professional. Customer service was excellent and the lawyer that handled my case, Desmond Fitzgerald was the best. He was very thorough and very experienced. He knows what he's talking about. All in all, I had a positive experience and I highly recommend this company, especially Desmond Fitzgerald, he's awesome.

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They helped me with a personal injury case

Highly recommend Mr Desmond Fitzgerald and his team. They helped me with a personal injury case. He was realistic about outcomes and professional and came through for me.

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It was a great pleasure to have Mr. FitzGerald as my attorney. He was always there when I needed him. He is experienced, professional, and caring. I would recommend his services to anyone. I greatly appreciate what he did for me and would like to take the chance to express my gratitude to his hard work. Thank you very much Mr. FitzGerald. You'r the best...

Ahmed B.

I really like that they speak so many languages and can help anyone!

FitzGerald Law Company recently handled my immigration case for me and everything turned out great! The staff is excellent all the way from the secretary and assistant all the way up to the attorney. My attorney was Desmond Fitzgerald himself and he was excellent.

Swarsatie R.

They have been very supportive and professional

My family and I have had an excellent experience with Desmond and his team at FitzGerald Law Company. They have been very supportive and professional, addressing our every concern. I feel fortunate to have found them and worked with them on my son's immigration case.

Yoseph A.

Highly recommend their services

My husband and I reached out to FitzGerald Law Company, and we can only speak very highly of them. Very professional & reliable. I want to say big thanks to Desmond and Zrinka, who helped us throughout my immigration process. Highly recommend their services!

Natasha A.

They are on top of everything

The Fitzgerald team is great and ready to help. They provide accurate information and never give a false picture of one's situation. They are on top of everything and work with you. The team are very thorough at what they do. I would highly recommend their legal services.

Patricia M.

The service was efficient, professional and precise

I highly recommend Fitzgerald law company. The service was efficient, professional and precise. My lawyer, Juan Congote, helped me get through the green card process. I had zero problems and it was very fast. Juan was very meticulous with the documents until the very end. I really liked that!

Valerio B.

A very well organized firm, experienced and professional.

My experience was exceptionally great. A very well organized firm, experienced and professional. Customer service was excellent and the lawyer that handled my case, Desmond Fitzgerald was the best. He was very thorough and very experienced. He knows what he's talking about. All in all, I had a positive experience and I highly recommend this company, especially Desmond Fitzgerald, he's awesome.

Mike A.

They helped me with a personal injury case

Highly recommend Mr Desmond Fitzgerald and his team. They helped me with a personal injury case. He was realistic about outcomes and professional and came through for me.

Garo M.

Experienced, professional, and caring

It was a great pleasure to have Mr. FitzGerald as my attorney. He was always there when I needed him. He is experienced, professional, and caring. I would recommend his services to anyone. I greatly appreciate what he did for me and would like to take the chance to express my gratitude to his hard work. Thank you very much Mr. FitzGerald. You'r the best...

Ahmed B.

Very professional and dedicated a lot of time to my case

Very professional and dedicated a lot of time to my case...kept me in the know throughout the whole process. I definitely recommend FitzGerald Law Company to anyone looking for representation in a court case. Thank you Desmond and the entire team.

James K.

He explained things in a way that was easily understandable and things went smoothly

Mr Desmond and his team did a remarkable job in immigration for my family and I. He explained things in a way that was easily understandable and things went smoothly. Highly recommended

Gassim F.

They made the process very smooth and pleasant

Desmond and his team did a great job during my husband’s green card application. Very diligent, reliable and knowledgeable. They made the process very smooth and pleasant. Highly recommended!

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The best lawfirm in Massachusetts. The team is wonderful, efficient and very helpful/ professional.

Zulia O.

Very professional and dedicated a lot of time to my case

Very professional and dedicated a lot of time to my case...kept me in the know throughout the whole process. I definitely recommend FitzGerald Law Company to anyone looking for representation in a court case. Thank you Desmond and the entire team.

James K.

He explained things in a way that was easily understandable and things went smoothly

Mr Desmond and his team did a remarkable job in immigration for my family and I. He explained things in a way that was easily understandable and things went smoothly. Highly recommended

Gassim F.

They made the process very smooth and pleasant

Desmond and his team did a great job during my husband’s green card application. Very diligent, reliable and knowledgeable. They made the process very smooth and pleasant. Highly recommended!

Karol S.

The team is wonderful, efficient and very helpful/ professional

The best lawfirm in Massachusetts. The team is wonderful, efficient and very helpful/ professional.

Zulia O.

They make the process as simple as possible

Our experience with the FitzGerald Law Company is beyond positive. They make the process as simple as possible and are there to help and support the entire time. Everyone we've been in touch from their office was nice and helpful. We won the case and we would definitely use their services again. Thank you Juan & the team!

Anonymous for Firm

They put in a lot of time into my case all the while keeping me informed of any and all developments

A very professional and committed team...They put in a lot of time into my case all the while keeping me informed of any and all developments. I definitely recommend FitzGerald Law Company to anyone seeking legal representation. Thank you Desmond and the entire team.

Anonymous for Firm

Highly recommend their services

My husband and I reached out to FitzGerald Law Company, and we can only speak very highly of them. Very professional & reliable. I want to say big thanks to Desmond and Zrinka, who helped us throughout my immigration process. Highly recommend their services!

Anonymous for Firm

They are on top of everything

The Fitzgerald team is great and ready to help. They provide accurate information and never give a false picture of one's situation. They are on top of everything and work with you. The team are very thorough at what they do. I would highly recommend their legal services.

Anonymous for Firm

I was very happy working with them and will be happy to work with them again

The lawyer did an excellent job, it was really wonderful and inspiring to have him as a lawyer, he truly handled my case and everything went as expected. They always call or sent me an email to inform me the progress of my case, I am always feel welcomed when I meet with them. I was very happy working with them and will be happy to work with them again in the future.

Anonymous for Firm

I would definitely recommend Desmond and FitzGerald & Company to anyone looking for a professional, trustful immigration lawyer

Desmond FitzGerald and his staff handles the daunting immigration legal paperwork with the utmost professionalism but always keeping the experience personal and realistic. I always felt that that I mattered. FitzGerald & Company has many payment options and they work with you to set up a payment plan which is affordable. {para}I would definitely recommend Desmond and FitzGerald & Company to anyone looking for a professional, trustful immigration lawyer.

Anonymous for Firm

They make the process as simple as possible

Our experience with the FitzGerald Law Company is beyond positive. They make the process as simple as possible and are there to help and support the entire time. Everyone we've been in touch from their office was nice and helpful. We won the case and we would definitely use their services again. Thank you Juan & the team!

Anonymous for Firm

They put in a lot of time into my case all the while keeping me informed of any and all developments

A very professional and committed team...They put in a lot of time into my case all the while keeping me informed of any and all developments. I definitely recommend FitzGerald Law Company to anyone seeking legal representation. Thank you Desmond and the entire team.

Anonymous for Firm

Highly recommend their services

My husband and I reached out to FitzGerald Law Company, and we can only speak very highly of them. Very professional & reliable. I want to say big thanks to Desmond and Zrinka, who helped us throughout my immigration process. Highly recommend their services!

Anonymous for Firm

They are on top of everything

The Fitzgerald team is great and ready to help. They provide accurate information and never give a false picture of one's situation. They are on top of everything and work with you. The team are very thorough at what they do. I would highly recommend their legal services.

Anonymous for Firm

I was very happy working with them and will be happy to work with them again

The lawyer did an excellent job, it was really wonderful and inspiring to have him as a lawyer, he truly handled my case and everything went as expected. They always call or sent me an email to inform me the progress of my case, I am always feel welcomed when I meet with them. I was very happy working with them and will be happy to work with them again in the future.

Anonymous for Firm

I would definitely recommend Desmond and FitzGerald & Company to anyone looking for a professional, trustful immigration lawyer

Desmond FitzGerald and his staff handles the daunting immigration legal paperwork with the utmost professionalism but always keeping the experience personal and realistic. I always felt that that I mattered. FitzGerald & Company has many payment options and they work with you to set up a payment plan which is affordable. {para}I would definitely recommend Desmond and FitzGerald & Company to anyone looking for a professional, trustful immigration lawyer.

Anonymous for Firm

I really like that they speak so many languages and can help anyone!

FitzGerald Law Company recently handled my immigration case for me and everything turned out great! The staff is excellent all the way from the secretary and assistant all the way up to the attorney. My attorney was Desmond Fitzgerald himself and he was excellent.

Swarsatie R.

They have been very supportive and professional

My family and I have had an excellent experience with Desmond and his team at FitzGerald Law Company. They have been very supportive and professional, addressing our every concern. I feel fortunate to have found them and worked with them on my son's immigration case.

Yoseph A.

Highly recommend their services

My husband and I reached out to FitzGerald Law Company, and we can only speak very highly of them. Very professional & reliable. I want to say big thanks to Desmond and Zrinka, who helped us throughout my immigration process. Highly recommend their services!

Natasha A.

They are on top of everything

The Fitzgerald team is great and ready to help. They provide accurate information and never give a false picture of one's situation. They are on top of everything and work with you. The team are very thorough at what they do. I would highly recommend their legal services.

Patricia M.

The service was efficient, professional and precise

I highly recommend Fitzgerald law company. The service was efficient, professional and precise. My lawyer, Juan Congote, helped me get through the green card process. I had zero problems and it was very fast. Juan was very meticulous with the documents until the very end. I really liked that!

Valerio B.

A very well organized firm, experienced and professional.

My experience was exceptionally great. A very well organized firm, experienced and professional. Customer service was excellent and the lawyer that handled my case, Desmond Fitzgerald was the best. He was very thorough and very experienced. He knows what he's talking about. All in all, I had a positive experience and I highly recommend this company, especially Desmond Fitzgerald, he's awesome.

Mike A.

They helped me with a personal injury case

Highly recommend Mr Desmond Fitzgerald and his team. They helped me with a personal injury case. He was realistic about outcomes and professional and came through for me.

Garo M.

Experienced, professional, and caring

It was a great pleasure to have Mr. FitzGerald as my attorney. He was always there when I needed him. He is experienced, professional, and caring. I would recommend his services to anyone. I greatly appreciate what he did for me and would like to take the chance to express my gratitude to his hard work. Thank you very much Mr. FitzGerald. You'r the best...

Ahmed B.

Very professional and dedicated a lot of time to my case

Very professional and dedicated a lot of time to my case...kept me in the know throughout the whole process. I definitely recommend FitzGerald Law Company to anyone looking for representation in a court case. Thank you Desmond and the entire team.

James K.

He explained things in a way that was easily understandable and things went smoothly

Mr Desmond and his team did a remarkable job in immigration for my family and I. He explained things in a way that was easily understandable and things went smoothly. Highly recommended

Gassim F.

They made the process very smooth and pleasant

Desmond and his team did a great job during my husband’s green card application. Very diligent, reliable and knowledgeable. They made the process very smooth and pleasant. Highly recommended!

Karol S.

The team is wonderful, efficient and very helpful/ professional

The best lawfirm in Massachusetts. The team is wonderful, efficient and very helpful/ professional.

Zulia O.

They make the process as simple as possible

Our experience with the FitzGerald Law Company is beyond positive. They make the process as simple as possible and are there to help and support the entire time. Everyone we've been in touch from their office was nice and helpful. We won the case and we would definitely use their services again. Thank you Juan & the team!

Anonymous for Firm

They put in a lot of time into my case all the while keeping me informed of any and all developments

A very professional and committed team...They put in a lot of time into my case all the while keeping me informed of any and all developments. I definitely recommend FitzGerald Law Company to anyone seeking legal representation. Thank you Desmond and the entire team.

Anonymous for Firm

Highly recommend their services

My husband and I reached out to FitzGerald Law Company, and we can only speak very highly of them. Very professional & reliable. I want to say big thanks to Desmond and Zrinka, who helped us throughout my immigration process. Highly recommend their services!

Anonymous for Firm

They are on top of everything

The Fitzgerald team is great and ready to help. They provide accurate information and never give a false picture of one's situation. They are on top of everything and work with you. The team are very thorough at what they do. I would highly recommend their legal services.

Anonymous for Firm

I was very happy working with them and will be happy to work with them again

The lawyer did an excellent job, it was really wonderful and inspiring to have him as a lawyer, he truly handled my case and everything went as expected. They always call or sent me an email to inform me the progress of my case, I am always feel welcomed when I meet with them. I was very happy working with them and will be happy to work with them again in the future.

Anonymous for Firm

I would definitely recommend Desmond and FitzGerald & Company to anyone looking for a professional, trustful immigration lawyer

Desmond FitzGerald and his staff handles the daunting immigration legal paperwork with the utmost professionalism but always keeping the experience personal and realistic. I always felt that that I mattered. FitzGerald & Company has many payment options and they work with you to set up a payment plan which is affordable. {para}I would definitely recommend Desmond and FitzGerald & Company to anyone looking for a professional, trustful immigration lawyer.

Anonymous for Firm

I really like that they speak so many languages and can help anyone!

FitzGerald Law Company recently handled my immigration case for me and everything turned out great! The staff is excellent all the way from the secretary and assistant all the way up to the attorney. My attorney was Desmond Fitzgerald himself and he was excellent.

Swarsatie R.

They have been very supportive and professional

My family and I have had an excellent experience with Desmond and his team at FitzGerald Law Company. They have been very supportive and professional, addressing our every concern. I feel fortunate to have found them and worked with them on my son's immigration case.

Yoseph A.

Highly recommend their services

My husband and I reached out to FitzGerald Law Company, and we can only speak very highly of them. Very professional & reliable. I want to say big thanks to Desmond and Zrinka, who helped us throughout my immigration process. Highly recommend their services!

Natasha A.

They are on top of everything

The Fitzgerald team is great and ready to help. They provide accurate information and never give a false picture of one's situation. They are on top of everything and work with you. The team are very thorough at what they do. I would highly recommend their legal services.

Patricia M.

The service was efficient, professional and precise

I highly recommend Fitzgerald law company. The service was efficient, professional and precise. My lawyer, Juan Congote, helped me get through the green card process. I had zero problems and it was very fast. Juan was very meticulous with the documents until the very end. I really liked that!

Valerio B.

A very well organized firm, experienced and professional.

My experience was exceptionally great. A very well organized firm, experienced and professional. Customer service was excellent and the lawyer that handled my case, Desmond Fitzgerald was the best. He was very thorough and very experienced. He knows what he's talking about. All in all, I had a positive experience and I highly recommend this company, especially Desmond Fitzgerald, he's awesome.

Mike A.

They helped me with a personal injury case

Highly recommend Mr Desmond Fitzgerald and his team. They helped me with a personal injury case. He was realistic about outcomes and professional and came through for me.

Garo M.

Experienced, professional, and caring

It was a great pleasure to have Mr. FitzGerald as my attorney. He was always there when I needed him. He is experienced, professional, and caring. I would recommend his services to anyone. I greatly appreciate what he did for me and would like to take the chance to express my gratitude to his hard work. Thank you very much Mr. FitzGerald. You'r the best...

Ahmed B.

Very professional and dedicated a lot of time to my case

Very professional and dedicated a lot of time to my case...kept me in the know throughout the whole process. I definitely recommend FitzGerald Law Company to anyone looking for representation in a court case. Thank you Desmond and the entire team.

James K.

He explained things in a way that was easily understandable and things went smoothly

Mr Desmond and his team did a remarkable job in immigration for my family and I. He explained things in a way that was easily understandable and things went smoothly. Highly recommended

Gassim F.

They made the process very smooth and pleasant

Desmond and his team did a great job during my husband’s green card application. Very diligent, reliable and knowledgeable. They made the process very smooth and pleasant. Highly recommended!

Karol S.

The team is wonderful, efficient and very helpful/ professional

The best lawfirm in Massachusetts. The team is wonderful, efficient and very helpful/ professional.

Zulia O.

They make the process as simple as possible

Our experience with the FitzGerald Law Company is beyond positive. They make the process as simple as possible and are there to help and support the entire time. Everyone we've been in touch from their office was nice and helpful. We won the case and we would definitely use their services again. Thank you Juan & the team!

Anonymous for Firm

They put in a lot of time into my case all the while keeping me informed of any and all developments

A very professional and committed team...They put in a lot of time into my case all the while keeping me informed of any and all developments. I definitely recommend FitzGerald Law Company to anyone seeking legal representation. Thank you Desmond and the entire team.

Anonymous for Firm

Highly recommend their services

My husband and I reached out to FitzGerald Law Company, and we can only speak very highly of them. Very professional & reliable. I want to say big thanks to Desmond and Zrinka, who helped us throughout my immigration process. Highly recommend their services!

Anonymous for Firm

They are on top of everything

The Fitzgerald team is great and ready to help. They provide accurate information and never give a false picture of one's situation. They are on top of everything and work with you. The team are very thorough at what they do. I would highly recommend their legal services.

Anonymous for Firm

I was very happy working with them and will be happy to work with them again

The lawyer did an excellent job, it was really wonderful and inspiring to have him as a lawyer, he truly handled my case and everything went as expected. They always call or sent me an email to inform me the progress of my case, I am always feel welcomed when I meet with them. I was very happy working with them and will be happy to work with them again in the future.

Anonymous for Firm

I would definitely recommend Desmond and FitzGerald & Company to anyone looking for a professional, trustful immigration lawyer

Desmond FitzGerald and his staff handles the daunting immigration legal paperwork with the utmost professionalism but always keeping the experience personal and realistic. I always felt that that I mattered. FitzGerald & Company has many payment options and they work with you to set up a payment plan which is affordable. {para}I would definitely recommend Desmond and FitzGerald & Company to anyone looking for a professional, trustful immigration lawyer.

Anonymous for Firm