Au Naturel or Not

If you were born in the USA you have many privileges accorded to you by the government. Those seeking immigration into the US have a different process to go through to become naturalized, and thus considered to be a “natural born citizen.”

Take a look at the Constitution and you will see a section dealing with natural born citizens, thus enshrining the rights of US citizens to certain things. In fact, the first Naturalization Act used terms like natural born and native born as meaning the same thing. You can thank Thomas Jefferson for that.

Although this process may sound easy – live in the US for a certain length of time; and follow its rules, regulations, laws; and apply for citizenship – the process has so many twists and turns it is imperative to hire a highly experienced immigration and naturalization attorney. Do not attempt to go through this process on your own.

Over the years, the USCIS rules have changed with regard to qualifying for naturalization, and the only way you will find out the current rules and qualifications is to speak to a competent immigration lawyer. Don’t be fooled by people who represent themselves to be something they are not. Hire a reputable lawyer and avoid the legal grief you may face further down the road.

Generally speaking, US citizenship can be obtained two ways– through birth or through naturalization. Unless you were actually born in the US, or your parents were US citizens when you were born, you need to apply for naturalization to become a citizen.

Some of the requirements you need to meet to qualify for citizenship are that you must have lived in the US legally, as a permanent resident, for at least 5 years. Of course, being a resident means that you have to be physically present in the US for three of the five years.

If you happen to be married to a US citizen, then your residency requirement is 3 years. You also have to be at least 18 years old and didn’t make another country your permanent home during the time you were stating that the US was your permanent home.

Another requirement is that you be of good moral character, which simply means no criminal arrests or things of that nature. If you’re a convicted felon where you came from, this will make things difficult for you when applying for US citizenship. You also need be able to speak, read and write English; and know the history and government structure of the US.

Although other countries don’t always do this, the United States requires that you pledge your allegiance to the US and accept the principles of the U.S. Constitution. This makes eminent sense considering you are asking to become a citizen of this country and your fellow compatriots accept the Constitution as a matter of natural born course.

Sally Odell – Rifkin & Fox-Isicoff, PA is an immigration lawyer in Miami with immigration law offices in Orlando and Miami Florida. To learn more, visit

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