For many people living in California, their main goal is to become a United States citizen; however, the path to citizenship can be complicated. A person living in this country can gain U.S. citizenship either through the process of applying for naturalization or by acquiring or deriving citizenship through birth or through their parents, each of which have their own rules and procedures. At Miranda, Magden & Miranda, our Monterey citizenship attorneys understand the intricacies of the citizenship process and can ensure that you are treated fairly while applying for citizenship status in the United States.

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Naturalization is a path to citizenship for people with lawful permanent residency in the United States with a green card. There are several ways to gain citizenship through the process of naturalization, including:

  • Naturalization based on five years as a permanent resident
  • Fast-track naturalization based on three years married to a U.S. citizen
  • Fast-track naturalization based on one year of military service

There are many advantages to gaining citizenship even if you are already a permanent resident of the United States. This includes the ability to vote in local, state, and national elections, and an expedited immigration process for family members such as a spouse, children, and parents. By becoming a U.S. citizen, you cannot be removed or deported if you are arrested or convicted of a criminal charge, and there are no restrictions on how much time you can spend outside of the United States.

Process for Citizenship

The path to citizenship typically begins with qualifying for a green card. Once a person has a green card and meets the timing and other qualifications, he or she can start the naturalization process by filling out an N-400 form and filing it with the federal government. As part of the requirements, the person filing must also be fingerprinted, and have biometrics taken as part of the process. The next step is a citizenship interview. This involves confirming all of the answers on the N-400 form, testing English speaking skills, and assessing the applicant’s knowledge of United States civics. Depending on the applicant’s age and their length of permanent residency in the United States, the English portion of the exam may be waived. Part of the interview process is also to check whether the applicant has “good moral character.” If the interview is passed, the final step is taking the citizenship oath, where you swear loyalty to the United States and receive your certificate of naturalization.

Barriers to Eligibility

There are a few reasons why a citizenship application may be denied. One reason may be because the continuity of residency has been broken by living out of the country for too long. Another reason may be failing to show good moral character because of a minor crime. Having a criminal record does not automatically bar you from citizenship, but the outcome or the delay in the process will depend on the situation. A conviction for violent crimes and aggravated felonies may automatically disqualify a person from citizenship. Other crimes, such as fraud or prostitution, may merely delay the eligibility process for a period of years. An experienced immigration attorney will be able to explain any potential barriers to eligibility for citizenship.


Call a Monterey County Citizenship Attorney Today

If you wish to become a United States citizen and are living in Monterey County or the surrounding counties, our immigration attorneys may be able to help. Call the office of Miranda, Magden & Miranda or contact us today to speak with a Monterey citizenship lawyer about the naturalization process and whether you qualify for citizenship.


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