U.S. citizenship can be obtained at birth or after birth. An individual is a U.S. citizen at birth if he or she was born in the United States, a U.S. territory, or an outlying possession of the United States subject to its judisdiction. An individual may also obtain "derived" or "acquired" U.S. citizenship if one or both of his parents were citizens at the time of the individual's birth (if the individual was born abroad) and meets other requirements.

Citizenship Through Naturalization

Lawful Permanent Residents of the U.S. who are 18 years or older and wish to become naturalized U.S. citizens must comply with the general "continuous residence" and "physical presence" (which can be 3 or 5 years depending on how the applicant obtained residency) and take a naturalization test on the following areas: (1) knowledge and understanding of the English language, and (2) history and government of the United States (Civics test). Although there are waivers of the English requirement and civics test, the particular facts and circumstances of the case determine whether a waiver applies to an applicant. Physical or mental disability that impairs an applicant from adequately completing a test may also serve as basis for a waiver. The years a person has lived in the country as a permanent resident may also serve as an exception.

Special naturalization provisions may be available for members and veterans of the U.S. armed forces and their dependents. An individual's eligibility for this type of naturalization can be best determined during a consultation. All applicants must reside for at least three months in the state where the application is being filed and must be a person of “good moral character.” Any criminal issues that an applicant might have had in the past must be disclosed to the attorney at the time of the consultation in order to determine the applicant's eligibility and case strategy.