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Comprehensive Guide to U.S. Citizenship in Los Angeles

Trying to figure out if you meet the legal requirements in order to naturalize is a convoluted process. The Glendale citizenship attorneys at Arnaout Immigration Law Firm has the knowledge to determine not only whether you qualify to become a citizen but also goes above and beyond in order to maximize your chances of success.

Contact our Los Angeles Immigration Law Firm at (818) 276-9900 for a personalized consultation.

Pathways to U.S. Citizenship 

Automatic Citizenship by Birth in the U.S.

Under the 14th Amendment, all persons born in the United States and subject to its jurisdiction are citizens. The term “United States” includes Puerto Rico, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. A birth certificate is proof of citizenship. Nationals cannot pass nationality to offspring, but may file an I-130 to classify children for immigration under the family-sponsored preferences.

Acquiring Citizenship from U.S. Citizen Parents

Additionally, certain individuals born outside the United States will acquire citizenship upon their birth. Acquisition is dependent upon the date of the child’s birth, whether one or both parents are U.S. citizens and, if one, which parent, and whether the birth was in or out of wedlock. A Los Angeles citizenship lawyer can help walk you through the different ways citizenship can be acquired.

Derivative Citizenship for Children

Children born outside the United States who have not acquired citizenship at birth may derive citizenship upon the naturalization of one or both parents.

A child derives citizenship if one parent is a U.S. citizen, by birth or by naturalization, and the child is under 18, is a Lawful Permanent Resident, and is residing in the United States in the legal and physical custody of the U.S. citizen parent. Stepchildren are not eligible for such consideration under this law.

Naturalization of Children Born Outside the United States upon Application Filed by Parents 
Some children who do not acquire or derive citizenship automatically through their parents may still be able to obtain naturalization without first becoming permanent residents.

  • The requirements are:
  • Child has one U.S. citizen parent who has been in the United States for five years, two of which were after age 14, or a grandparent (parent of the U.S. citizen parent) has been physically present in the United States for five years, two of which are after the grandparent’s 14th birthday.
  • Child is physically present temporarily in the United States pursuant to lawful admission.
  • Child is under 18.
  • Child is residing outside the United States in the legal and physical custody of the U.S. citizen parent. (If child is adopted, adoption must have taken place before age 16.)

Costs Involved in Applying for Citizenship in Los Angeles

The cost of applying for U.S. citizenship in California involves several fees. As of my last knowledge update in September 2021, the primary expense is the Form N-400 application fee, which was $640. However, there's an additional biometrics fee of $85, making the total application cost $725 for most applicants.

It's important to note that these fees can change over time, and there may be exceptions or reduced fees for certain groups, such as military applicants or those with low income. Fee waivers might also be available based on specific criteria.

Applicants should also consider the cost of preparation, including legal fees if they choose to work with an immigration attorney. While hiring a Los Angeles citizenship lawyer is not mandatory, many applicants seek legal assistance to ensure their application is correctly filed.

Visit the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website to get the most recent information on application fees and possible fee waivers. Alternatively, see a citizenship attorney in Los Angeles who can give you up-to-date information based on your unique situation.

Applying for U.S. Citizenship with a Criminal Record in California

Whether you can apply for U.S. citizenship in California with a criminal record depends on the nature and severity of your criminal history. Having a criminal record doesn't automatically disqualify you from applying, but it can complicate the process.

Minor offenses or some types of misdemeanors may not pose significant barriers to your application. However, if you have been convicted of serious crimes, such as felonies or crimes involving moral turpitude, it can affect your eligibility for citizenship.

The key factors considered include the type of offense, the number of offenses, when they occurred, and whether you completed any required sentences or probation. USCIS evaluates your moral character, and certain criminal convictions may result in a finding of bad moral character, which could lead to denial of your application.

It's crucial to consult with a qualified Los Angeles citizenship attorney who specializes in this area if you have a criminal record. They can assess your situation, advise you on your eligibility, and guide you on how to proceed if you decide to apply for citizenship.