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Naturalization and Citizenship



A certain number of years after getting a green card, legal permanent residents are eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship. Most people have to wait five years.  If you got a green card through marriage to a U.S. citizen, you are eligible for citizenship after three years.   If you serve in the U.S. military, you may apply during military training.

At Blackwell Law Group, we encourage people to become U.S. citizens as soon as they are eligible. Citizenship provides important benefits.  You will have the right to vote and to run for office.  You can sponsor a wider range of relatives for an immigrant visa.  You will be eligible for certain government jobs.  When you die, your estate will be exempt from federal estate tax. You will never be deported. 

Before you apply for citizenship, it is very important to have your eligibility reviewed.  Things like criminal convictions, prolonged trips outside the U.S. and failure to pay child support and taxes could lead to denial or even worse, deportation proceedings.





To qualify for citizenship, you must have been physically present in the U.S. for at least half the qualifying time period.  You also should not travel outside the U.S. for periods in excess of 6 months until you are a citizen unless you have advance permission from the U.S. government.

You must also show good moral character during the qualifying time period.  Good moral character is less obvious than it seems.  Contact us for a brief consultation to determine whether you will likely pass the good moral character test. 

You also must demonstrate your knowledge of American history and government and have good command of the English language.  There are exemptions for the English language requirement for older adults. 


Certificate of Citizenship

If you are a U.S. citizen and you have children born abroad, you may be eligible to claim U.S. citizenship for them through a certificate of citizenship. 

If you have just become a U.S. citizen and you have children who were born in another country and live now with you in the U.S., they will be automatic U.S. citizens as long as they are under age 18.  The certificate of citizenship is proof of their status.




Blackwell Law Group, S.C. ●  700 W. Virginia St., Suite 307 ● Milwaukee, WI 53204 ● (414) 964-1900


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The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for individual advice regarding your own situation.