The following information includes frequently asked immigration questions.
Citizenship & Naturalization FAQ’s
- How can I become a United States citizen?
- How can I become a citizen through the naturalization process?
- What are the requirements for naturalization?
- When does my time as a Permanent Resident begin?
- What kind of profession requires an H-1B visa?
- What is a specialty occupation?
- If I am an H-1B alien, how can I immigrate permanently to the U.S.?
- Who is eligible for employment-based immigration?
- How can my spouse become a legal immigrant?
- Can my spouse live in the U.S. while his or her visa petition is still pending?
- How will my child emigrate to the U.S. from a foreign country?
Individuals not born as US citizens can receive citizenship through naturalization.
If you are not U.S. citizen by birth or did not acquire U.S. citizenship automatically after birth, you may still be eligible to become a citizen through the normal naturalization process. People 18 years and older can file “Application for Naturalization” (Form N-400).
Persons who acquire citizenship from parent(s) while less than 18 years old can file an “Application for Certificate of Citizenship” (Form N-600) to document naturalization. Adopted children who acquire citizenship from parent(s) should file “Application for Certificate of Citizenship on Behalf of Adopted Child” (N-643) to document naturalization.
- Period of continuous residence and physical presence in the United States
- Residence in a particular USCIS district prior to filing
- Ability to read, write, and speak English
- Knowledge and understanding of U.S. history and government
- Good moral character
- Attachment to the principles of the U.S. Constitution and
- Favorable disposition toward the United States.
On the date you were granted permanent resident status, which is on your Permanent Resident Card (formerly known as Alien Registration Card).
The H-1B is a non-immigrant classification used by an alien who will be employed temporarily in a specialty occupation or as a fashion model of distinguished merit and ability.
A specialty occupation requires theoretical and practical application of a body of specialized knowledge along with at least a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent. For example, architecture, engineering, mathematics, physical sciences, social sciences, medicine and health, education, business specialties, accounting, law, theology and the arts.
An H-1B alien can be the beneficiary of an immigrant visa petition, apply for adjustment of status, or take other steps toward Lawful Permanent Resident status without affecting H-1B status. This is known as “dual intent” and has been recognized in the immigration law since passage of the Immigration Act of 1990. During the time that the application for LPR status is pending, an alien may travel on his or her H-1B visa rather than obtaining advance parole or requesting other advance permission from Immigration to return to the U.S.
There are five categories of employment-based immigration:
- EB-1 priority workers: aliens with extraordinary ability, outstanding professors and researchers, and certain multinational executives and managers.
- EB-2 workers with advanced degrees or exceptional ability: aliens who are members of the professions holding advanced degrees or their equivalent and aliens who because of their exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business will substantially benefit the national economy, cultural, or educational interests or welfare of the United States.
- EB-3 professionals, skilled workers, and other workers: aliens with at least two years of experience as skilled workers, professionals with a baccalaureate degree, and others with less than two years experience, such as an unskilled worker who can perform labor for which qualified workers are not available in the United States.
- EB-4 special workers such as those in a religious occupation or vocation: aliens who, for at least two years before applying for admission to the United States, have been a member of a religious denomination that has a non-profit religious organization in the United States, and who will be working in a religious vocation or occupation at the request of the religious organization.
- EB-5 Employment Creation: You may be granted immigrant status in the United States for the purpose of engaging in a new commercial enterprise.
There is a three-step process for your spouse to become a legal immigrant:
- USCIS must approve an immigrant visa petition that you file for your spouse.
- State Department visa bulletin must show that a spouse immigrant visa is available to your spouse, based on the date you filed the immigrant visa application.
- If your spouse is outside the United States when your visa petition is approved and when an immigrant visa number (if required) becomes available, your spouse will be notified to go to the local U.S. consulate to complete the processing for an immigrant visa. If your spouse is legally inside the U.S. when your visa petition is approved and when an immigrant visa number (if required) becomes available, he or she may use a Form I-485 to apply to adjust his or her status to that of a lawful permanent resident.
If you are a U.S. Citizen, once you file Form I-130, your spouse is eligible to apply for a nonimmigrant K-3 Visa. This will entitle him or her to come to the U.S. to live and work while the visa petition is pending. The Form to file for this benefit is Form I-129F. It is not necessary for your spouse to obtain a K-3 visa in order to come to the U.S. to live and work. Your spouse may wait abroad for immigrant visa processing. However, seeking a K-3 visa can be a method for him or her to come to the U.S. more quickly.
If you are a legal immigrant (or “lawful permanent resident”) or a foreign national who has been granted the privilege of living and working permanently in the United States, there is a three-step process for your child or son or daughter to become a legal immigrant:
- You must obtain USCIS approval of an immigrant visa petition that you file for your child, son or daughter.
- State Department must then give your son or daughter an immigrant visa number, even if he or she is already in the United States. If you are a U.S. citizen and the child is both under 21 years of age and unmarried, a visa number is not required.
- If your child or son or daughter is outside the United States, he or she will be notified to go to the local U.S. consulate to complete the processing for an immigrant visa when one becomes available. If your child or son or daughter is legally in the U.S. when an immigrant visa number becomes available (or if one is not required), he or she may apply to adjust status to that of a lawful permanent resident using an I-485 form.