Citizenship and Naturalization


There are three ways an individual can become a US citizen. By being born in the United States, by automatically acquiring citizenship through a a US citizen parent, or through a process called naturalization.

Before starting the naturalization process to become a United States Citizen, you must first be a lawful permanent resident (LPR), also known as a green card holder. Green card holders can legally live and work in the United States, and could choose to remain a lawful permanent resident forever However, there are risks to remaining a green card holder indefinitely (see below), and many green card holders desire to become United States citizens and have all the rights that belong to U.S. citizens alone.


To become a United States citizen via naturalization you must be at least 18 years old and satisfy the citizenship eligibility requirements, including:

  • Five years as a Lawful Permanent Resident.
  • 30 months physically presence in the United States.
  • Have good moral character.
  • Have a basic knowledge of the English language and U.S. history


A foreign spouse of a United States citizen may apply for permanent resident status through marriage. If approved, the spouse can be eligible for citizenship as quickly as 3 years from the approval.


To apply for citizenship you must file the necessary form and filing fees with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. It is essential that you ensure you are not subject to deportation for any reason. Many LPRs have found themselves in trouble for not being aware of their situation before starting the naturalization process.

Many people and websites will tell you that you can file this application yourself. DO NOT FALL INTO THIS TRAP. Having an experienced attorney look over your case, identify any errors, prepare your application, and prepare you for the interview can help prevent a hidden disaster or delays.


After the citizenship application has been filed, you have been fingerprinted and have passed a background check, you will be scheduled for a citizenship interview. The immigration officer at the interview will put you through a basic English test and US civics and history test. We can accompany you to this interview. This is especially important if you have anything in your background or application that may adversely affect you. The Law Office of Malathi Benjamin can represent you to make sure your rights are protected.


There are many risks to remaining a LPR instead of becoming a U.S. Citizen. Here are a few reasons you should apply for citizenship if eligible:

  1. Green Card Holders can be deported, citizens cannot.
  2. A Citizen can sponsor family members immediately, while green card holders must wait in a line to apply.
  3. You can lose your permanent resident status for spending too much time outside the United States.
  4. Citizens can sponsor certain family members that Permanent Residents cannot.
  5. Citizenship fees are constantly increasing.
  6. United States citizens can vote in elections!


The Law Office of Malathi Benjamin has successfully naturalized hundreds of clients throughout the Greater Los Angeles Area and beyond. We have helped clients gain LPR status and eventually become citizens; we have helped clients become U.S. Citizens; and we have represented individuals who have tried to do it themselves and got into trouble. Contact us today to schedule a Citizenship and Naturalization consultation.

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