How to Become a Citizen of the United States of America

Immigration issues are complex and overwhelming, but you don’t have to do it alone. Our Immigration Attorneys are here to help in Kennewick, Tacoma, Yakima, Moses Lake, Portland, and Seattle.

Ritchie Reiersen Immigration Attorneys Love Helping Immigrants Become Citizens

If you or a loved one have immigration questions regarding becoming an American citizen

let Ritchie Reiersen Immigration lawyers help you receive the answers you need. The citizenship and naturalization process can be complex and confusing – and is often very frustrating. At Ritchie Reiersen Immigration Law, our team of Immigration Lawyers find great joy in helping our clients achieve their immigration dreams through the citizenship and naturalization process. Let us help you with your immigration needs. We provide local immigration services in Kennewick, Yakima, Moses Lake, Tacoma, Seattle, Auburn, and Portland, and the communities surrounding these cities. Call us today at (888) 884-7337 for a free consultation with an experienced Immigration Attorney near you.

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How To Become A United States Citizen

There are two basic ways to become a U.S. citizen. The first is simply by birth, and the second is through the immigration process known as naturalization.

Birth In The United States

If someone is born in the United States, he or she automatically becomes a U.S. citizen. Likewise, if you are born outside of the United States, but you have a U.S. citizen parent, you likely qualify to be a U.S. citizen.


To qualify for naturalization, you must have been a permanent resident for at least three years. Permanent residency is commonly referred to as having a “green card” and is obtained either through a family relationship with a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, or through obtaining permission to be in the United States for employment. There are many requirements to become a naturalized U.S. citizen, including the listed items below:

  1. Be a lawful permanent resident of the United States for 5 years or 3 years if married to a U.S. citizen for a minimum of the 3 years (although there are certain exceptions to this requirement for persons who have honorable service in the U.S. Armed Forces);
  2. Be physically present in the United States for over 50% of the required residency period;
  3. Be a person of good moral character;
  4. Take an oath of loyalty to the United States;
  5. Be able to speak, read and write simple words and phrases in the English language (although there are certain exceptions to this rule); and
  6. Pass a test in U.S. history and government.

Why You Should have An Immigration Attorney

Many people with immigration needs find it very helpful to have an experienced Immigration Attorney help them through the process of immigration. The U.S. immigration system is complex, confusing, and constantly changing. Additionally, the paperwork is complicated and time consuming, and can easily become overwhelming. At Ritchie Reiersen Law, we want each of our immigration clients to find success and achieve their personal immigration goals. We help each client in a personal manner and ensure the process is explained and understood each step of the way. Our team of Immigration Lawyers has years of experience and is ready to help you and your loved ones with all your immigration needs. We provide immigration services in Kennewick, Yakima, Moses Lake, Portland, Tacoma, Seattle, and Auburn.

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Feel free to ask for all immigration purposes from our immigration lawyer. This book is composed of easy to understand action steps so you can understand things better for yourself or your family.
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Our Immigration Services

The process to becoming a U.S. citizen or receiving any type of visa can be very complex and confusing - and often quite frustrating.  An experienced immigration lawyer at Ritchie Reiersen Law will care for you and help you understand each step of the immigration process.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are the questions listed on the USCIS test changed frequently?
No, the questions are not changed frequently, although some answers may change simply due to new appointments or elections. As you study the test, make sure you know the most current information for the answers. Visit the Civics Test Updates page to ensure you are studying the most up-to-date information.
What is naturalization?
Naturalization is the process that allows a foreign-born individual to become a U.S. citizen.

The advantages to becoming a citizen include (but are not limited to) the right to vote, the ability to travel with a U.S. passport (instead of a visa), and the ability to petition for immediate family immigration, which is a significantly faster immigration process for your loved ones.

Who is eligible for citizenship or naturalization?
A person is eligible to apply for Naturalization if they meet the following requirements:

  • Has been a lawful permanent resident for 5 years (or 3 years for spouse of a U.S. citizen)
  • Is over 18 years of age
  • Has good moral character
  • Can speak, read, and write English
  • Can pass a civics test on U.S. history and government
  • Was physically present in the U.S. at least half of the required time
  • Has maintained continuous lawful permanent residency
  • Will take an oath of allegiance and swear loyalty to the U.S.
Do I have to renew my citizenship after a certain number of years?
U.S. citizenship does not expire and does not need to be renewed. However, if certain types of crime are committed, citizenship may be voided or withdrawn.
I would like to take the test to become a naturalized citizen of the U.S. Is there study material available?
Yes, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has the civics test questions available to print out and study. There are also significant resources available on their website, including links to local resources, practice exams, and videos to help you to know what to expect.


During the naturalization interview, the USCIS officer will ask the applicant any 10 of the 100 questions listed on the study sheet. The USCIS officer will ask only the civics questions listed on the sheet.

Do I have to answer all 100 questions correctly to pass my naturalization interview?
During your naturalization interview, you will be asked 10 questions from the list of 100 questions. In order to successfully pass the test portion of the interview, you must be able to answer 6 of the 10 questions correctly.
I have a green card that allows me to travel to my home country and back to the U.S. Can I continue to live in both countries while I apply for citizenship in the U.S.?
In order to qualify for citizenship, applicants must be able to demonstrate that they have continuous residence in the U.S. for at least 5 years. This means that you must reside in the U.S., not another country, for that time.

You may travel outside of the United States during that time, but if any trip lasts longer than 180 days, USCIS may determine that you did not meet the “continuous residency” requirement and the clock would then restart.

In addition to looking at how long you spend outside of the United States, USCIS will also examine how frequently you take trips to other countries. If the frequency and duration of the trips are enough to determine you spent less than half of the year in the U.S. (this is known as the “physical presence” requirement), you would not be eligible to apply for naturalization.

The physical presence requirement as well as the continuous residency requirement are separate requirements. They are interrelated, but an applicant for naturalization must meet both requirements.

Is there a limit to the number of times I can apply for naturalization?
There is no limit to the number of times a person applies for naturalization. If an individual fails certain portions of the exam twice, they are given opportunities to apply for naturalization again.
Do I need an attorney to help me with the naturalization process?
The process of naturalization can be a complicated one. While there are plenty of online resources, there are a lot of small details that can end up holding up your application if they’re not answered completely or done correctly.

An Immigration Attorney can help streamline the process and ensure your application is filled out correctly and completely, help prepare you for your interview, and attend the interview with you. An Immigration Attorney cannot help you break the law or work around eligibility issues. If you aren’t eligible, an attorney isn’t going to be able to pull strings and change your eligibility, but they can help you understand your options.

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