US immigration requirements for citizenship applications

Anyone in British Columbia who is also a holder of a green card might have questions about becoming a United States citizen. Under U.S. immigration laws, applicants must meet specific requirements before they could qualify for citizenship. The first is the applicant's age. He or she must be 18 or older, except if the person is a military member.

To become naturalized, the applicant must be a permanent U.S. resident who has continuously resided in the United States as such for five years. However, if the person is married to a U.S. citizen, and has been living with that spouse for at least three years, that will satisfy the continuous residence requirement. When it comes to physical presence, the three or five years of residence as a green card holder, physical presence for at least half of that period is required.

Applicants must have basic knowledge of the history and government of the United States, and be able to prove good moral character for the three or five years of being a permanent resident before applying for citizenship. A record of arrest or criminal charges could adversely affect the application for naturalization. The ability to read, speak and write simple English is another requirement, although exceptions exist for those who are older than 50 with a specific number of years in permanent residence.

Before receiving citizenship, U.S. immigration laws require applicants to take an oath of allegiance to the United States. As with most legal issues, exceptions exist, and for that reason, it makes sense to seek legal counsel. An experienced immigration lawyer in British Columbia who is registered on both sides of the border can provide all the answers along with guidance throughout ensuing proceedings.

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