American Citizenship Newsletter
Second Quarter 2009 (Jun 2009)
We invite you to view an immigration segment featuring an interview of our Principal attorney, Desmond P. FitzGerald by Angel Salcedo of the Encuentro Latino Show, airing Friday, June 26th, at 6:00 p.m. on Telemundo. If you are not in the Masachusetts area, you may view this segment online at: www.encuentrolatinotv.com
We also invite you to see our new company video on Youtube.
As we approach the 4th of July, we decided to dedicate this newsletter to the subject of U.S. Citizenship. We hope you find it informative, and as always, please forward this to everyone you know who may find U.S. immigration information useful. Thanks for being a loyal subscriber.
Special Announcement: Our office will be moving in mid July to 185 Devonshire Street, Suite 601, Boston, MA 02110. Our telephone and fax numbers will remain the same. We are in the final stages of the construction of our new space. Please come and visit us soon.
FREQUENT QUESTIONS ON AMERICAN CITIZENSHIP
In general, a person must have been a legal permanent resident for 5 years (3 years for those married to US citizens) and they must have been present in the U.S. for at least half of that 5 or 3 year period. In addition, a person cannot have violated any of the conditions of their resident status (for example, they may not have been outside of the U.S. for more than 180 days continuously, etc.), and must have been a person of good moral character (i.e. have not committed crimes).
Everyone who is eligible may apply for citizenship three months before their qualifying period ends. If you are married to a U.S. citizen and you have had legal permanent resident status for 3 years, you can apply for citizenship three months before the 3 years.
Also, children may be eligible to obtain citizenship even faster under the circumstances described below.
If the child is less than 18 years of age and has been present in the U.S. with legal permanent resident status in the custody of the citizen parent, then he/she can obtain US citizenship automatically. Otherwise, they must comply with the other general requirements discussed in question No. 1.
4. Are there any exceptions to the language or civics examination requirement if someone cannot speak English?
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Citizenship benefits include the right to vote in all government elections (federal, state and local), the right to travel outside the U.S. for periods longer than 180 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 can not, and spouses and children of U.S. citizens are eligible to receive a green card (residency) with shorter waiting periods than those of residents.
As soon as you qualify for it. Residents share virtually all of the obligations to the U.S. that all citizens have, but do not have many of the important citizen rights. In addition, residency status can be lost while citizenship cannot.