In the last post, we discussed ways a permanent resident (green card holder) can sponsor family members for immigration to the United States.
As the type of family member a permanent resident may sponsor is limited, many Iraqi refugees will have to wait to become U.S. citizens in order to reunite their families.
To be eligible for U.S. citizenship, you must have a period of continuous residence and physical presence in the United States.
You have the necessary period of residence if you have been a lawful permanent resident for five years (or three years if you are married to a U.S. citizen). Your residence in the U.S. must have been continuous.
If you have traveled outside the United States extensively, you should consult with an immigration lawyer to determine whether you are eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship.
You must also be at least 18 years of age and be able to read, write and speak basic English. Finally, you must have a basic knowledge of U.S. history and government, good moral character, and be willing to take the Oath of Allegiance.
If you are elderly and/or disabled, you may qualify to exceptions from the English and civics portion requirements.
The process of becoming a U.S. citizen is called naturalization.
You begin the process by filing Form N-400, Application for Naturalization with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
The application process can take between 12 and 15 months. To ensure your application is error-free and that you are prepared for your naturalization interview, you should consult with an immigration lawyer.