Citizenship and Naturalization

To become eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship through naturalization, it typically takes five-years for an adult (a person 18 years or older) to complete the process. Having an experienced immigration attorney means that the process can begin immediately and each stage of the case can be completed without delay.

The law provides for several different ways to become a U.S. citizen. Of course, the most common way to become a U.S. Citizen is to be born on U.S. soil, on U.S. territory, or on a U.S. military base in another country. Another way of becoming a U.S. Citizen is to be born to a U.S. citizen parent and applying for naturalization (often called "derived" or "acquired" citizenship). Finally, you can become a U.S. citizen if you marry a U.S. citizen.

The spouse of a U.S. citizen qualifies for naturalization under Section 319(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) if the spouse meets all of the eligibility requirements including:

  • the spouse has been a permanent resident (green card holder) for at least three (3) years; and
  • the spouse has been living in marital union with the same U.S. citizen spouse during such time.

In some cases, the spouse of a U.S. citizen employed abroad may qualify for naturalization regardless of their time as permanent residents under Section 319(b) of the INA.

Attorney for Naturalization | Citizenship in The Woodlands, TX

After deciding to become a U.S. citizen by applying for naturalization, you should contact an experienced immigration attorney to help you through every step of the process. 

Becoming a U.S. citizen is not easy, but the rewards are endless for individuals who want to live, work and stay in the United States. As a native Spanish speaker, he can translate the complicated immigration forms and help his clients understand the convoluted legal language contained in the application. If your application was denied, Luis F. Hess can help you file a petition to reopen the denial of citizenship.

As an experienced immigration attorney, Luis F. Hess can help you avoid making mistakes, guide you in filing the correct documents, and stand up for you if you have, unfortunately, been denied citizenship through naturalization.

With an office located in Shenandoah, Texas, just north of The Woodlands, Luis F. Hess serves clients throughout Montgomery County and Harris County. He represents clients throughout Conroe, Shenandoah, The Woodlands, Spring, Houston and the surrounding areas.

When you choose Luis F. Hess, PLLC, you choose an attorney who is dedicated to providing excellent customer service and a solution to your complex immigration issues.

Call (281) 205-8540 to schedule a consultation.


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Overview of U.S. Citizenship and Naturalization in Montgomery County


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Eligibility For Naturalization

Naturalization refers to the process of admitting a foreigner as a citizen to another country. In this instance, it refers to the process of becoming a U.S. citizen. To become a U.S. citizen through naturalization, a person must be at least 18 years old and must have been a legal permanent resident for at least five years. If the applicant for naturalization is married to a U.S. citizen, then the permanent residence length requirement is reduced to three years.

Becoming naturalized is a long process. After determining whether an individual is eligible to begin the naturalization process, then the applicant must complete a number of additional steps.

The requirements for naturalization are set forth at 8 U.S.C. § 1427. The burden is on the applicant to show his eligibility for citizenship in every respect. The applicant meets this burden if he shows by a preponderance of the evidence that he has satisfied all of the requirements to become a United States citizen as explained in 8 C.F.R. § 316.2(b). Any doubts regarding eligibility should be resolved in favor of the United States and against the applicant.

Under section 319(a) of the INA, to be eligible for naturalization, the applicant must:

  • that he or she is well disposed to the good order of the U.S. during all relevant periods under the law;
  • that he or she is of good moral character;
  • that he or she is attached to the principles of the Constitution of the United States;
  • that he or she can read, write, and speak English;
  • that he or she has knowledge and understanding of U.S. history and government;
  • that he or she has been physically present in the United States for at least 18 months out of the three years immediately preceding the date of filing;
  • that he or she has continuously resided within the United States from the date of filing for naturalization until the time of naturalization;
  • that he or she is at least 18 years old; and
  • that he or she fulfills the requirements specific to his or her naturalization eligibility.

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Becoming a U.S. Citizen Through Naturalization

The process of becoming a U.S. citizen through nationalization is not the same for everyone. The process is different based on an individual's status. For example, a person who has one U.S. citizen parent, but is not a U.S. citizen, will have a different process than an individual who is a legal permanent resident.

Legal permanent resident: an applicant must be at least 18 years old and have been a permanent resident for at least five continuous years. The permanent resident must not have taken any trips longer than six months within those five years.

Spouses of U.S. citizens: a person applying for citizenship through marriage, must be married at the time that he or she submits the application and living with the same U.S. citizen for the past three years. The applicant’s spouse must have been a U.S. citizen for the past three years. The applicant must have been a permanent resident for three years and been living in the U.S. for three years without any trips that lasted longer than six months. 

Member of the U.S. Armed Forces: an applicant must be at least 18 years old and must have served for at least one year. The applicant must have permanent resident status on the day of the naturalization interview. If the applicant served for less than a year or was discharged more than six months before the date of filing, then he or she must have been a legal permanent resident for five years at the time that he or she files. In this instance, the applicant must have also had five years without any trips longer than six months, not including any military deployments.


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Naturalization Through Parentage

In the citizenship context, the term "parent" means, the "genetic father, the genetic mother, and the non-genetic gestational mother, if she is the legal parent at the time of birth" under Texas Law.

According to Chapter 3 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), a person born in the United States, who is subject to United States jurisdiction, is a U.S. citizen at birth.

A child born outside of the U.S. may acquire citizenship at birth if he or she has at least one parent who is a U.S. citizen and the citizen-parent meets specific residence and physical presence requirements in the U.S. or an outlying possession before the child’s birth. 

When a child is born outside of the United States, the process for naturalization through parentage is different for the children of married parents and those born out of wedlock.

A child born to two U.S. parents who are not married is considered a U.S. citizen based on the U.S. citizenship status of either the mother or the father. If the child has a U.S. citizen father, then he or she must show the following:

  • that a blood relationship exists, by clear and convincing evidence;
  • that the child's father was a U.S. citizen at the time of the child's birth;
  • that the child's father agreed to provide financial support for the child until he or she reached 18 years old; and
  • that the child was acknowledged or legitimized.

The standard is slightly different when the U.S. citizen parent is the mother. A child born out of wedlock acquires citizenship under the following circumstances:

    • the child was born after December 23, 1952;
    • the child’s mother was a U.S. citizen at the time of the child’s birth; and
    • the child’s U.S. citizen mother was physically present in the U.S. or in a U.S. territory for one continuous year before the child’s birth.

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Spouse of a U.S. Citizen Employed Abroad

To qualify, the spouse of a U.S. citizen must be employed by the U.S. government, including the military, or another qualifying employer, when that spouse is scheduled to be stationed abroad in such employment for at least one year at the time of filing.

In general, a spouse of a U.S. citizen employed abroad must be present in the United States under a lawful admission for permanent residence at the time of examination of the naturalization application and at the time of naturalization, and he or she must meet of all of the requirements listed above except that:

  • No specific period as a permanent resident (green card holder) is required (but the spouse must be a permanent resident);
  • No specific period of continuous residence or physical presence in the United States is required; and
  • No particular period of marital union is required; however, the spouses must be in a valid marriage at the time of filing until the time of naturalization.

A spouse that intends to head immediately to the U.S. to reside upon the termination of U.S. citizen's employment abroad, then the applicant spouse may be eligible for naturalization under Section 319(b) of the INA.


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Additional Resources

Naturalization Through Parentage Policy Manual - Visit the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website to find Chapter 3 of the INA. Chapter 3 discusses the general requirements for acquisition of citizenship at birth, and it explains the circumstances that a parent must satisfy for his or her child to be eligible to acquire U.S. citizenship through parentage.


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Attorney for Citizenship and Naturalization in Texas

Immigration laws that apply to the right to live and work in the United States are complicated. Luis F. Hess helps clients figure out the best way to become a U.S. Citizen for any case in The Woodlands or surrounding areas.

With an office in Shenandoah, TX, just north of The Woodlands, Luis F. Hess is an experienced immigration attorney serving clients throughout Montgomery County and Harris County. He can answer your questions about your eligibility for citizenship and is committed to helping you achieve your full immigration goals for cases in The Woodlands, TX.

Attorney Luis F. Hess handles a variety of citizenship claims including:

      • the children of a U.S. citizen born in a foreign country;
      • a child adopted by American parents; or
      • a child with a parent who is naturalized and now seeks citizenship status.

In many cases, those living and working in the United States should seek a path to citizenship. Luis F. Hess helps clients become a U.S. citizen. He handles cases involving the application for citizenship and petitions to reopen denials of citizenship.

Call (281) 205-8540 today.


This article was last updated on Friday, January 26, 2018.

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