When you arrived in New Jersey from your native homeland, you probably had several hopes and dreams regarding your future life in the United States. In addition to those happy thoughts, you likely also experienced some worry and anxiety, wondering whether obstacles would arise to impede your plans of becoming a citizen. It's no secret that U.S. immigration law is complex and often difficult to understand.
Researching the naturalization process ahead of time and seeking clarification on any points that cause you concern may help expedite the process and get you closer toward achieving your citizenship goals.
How to know if you're eligible
The regulations governing application for naturalization are general guidelines rather than specific laws. In other words, the court looks at every situation on a case-by-case basis, then takes the guiding regulations into account to determine whether a particular individual is eligible to become a citizen. Some of the basic requirements include the following:
- Anyone wishing to become a full-fledged citizen of the United States must be able to speak, write and read the English language.
- If you want to become a naturalized citizen, you must also possess basic knowledge regarding U.S. history and government.
- You must be willing to accept the ideals contained in the U.S. Constitution.
- If you apply in New Jersey, you must provide evidence that you've resided in this state for at least three consecutive months. (The same goes for all other states.)
- You cannot apply for citizenship if you do not have a green card.
- You must not be under age 18 if you hope to be eligible for naturalization.
It so happens that some people who desire to become citizens find out they already have claims to citizenship through their parents' statuses. If you believe this applies to your particular situation, it's best to further investigate the matter ahead of time. The process from there typically involves an official interview, filing of required documents and reception of notification to take an oath of allegiance to the United States. It always helps to have an outside support system in place, should any problems arise.
An immigration and naturalization law attorney is a great asset to have on-hand during the application process. An experienced attorney can clarify any law or regulation pertaining to your situation, as well as recommend the best course of action for achieving your goals in the least amount of time possible.