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Green Cards & Naturalization

Green Card Application Guidance

What Is A Green Card (Permanent Residence)?

A green card, or permanent residence, allows an immigrant to live and work in the United States for the rest of his or her life. For many people, obtaining a green card is the first step in the road to U.S. citizenship.

How Do I Get A Green Card (Permanent Residence)?

There are many ways to obtain a green card or permanent residence. The most popular method of obtaining a green card is through employment sponsorship or family sponsorship. However, there are other ways to get a green card, including political asylum, investment visas and diversity lotteries.

For more detailed information, please view our articles entitled:

Santa Clara Permanent Residence Attorneys

The U.S. immigration and nationality laws are complex. The process of obtaining the correct type of visa for your situation is confusing. One of the benefits of working with an experienced San Francisco green card attorney at Litwin & Smith is that you will benefit from our more than 50 years of immigration law experience and the focused knowledge of lead immigration attorney Edward Litwin, a certified specialist in immigration and nationality law by the California State Bar Board of Legal Specialization.

We can effectively represent you in your quest to obtain a green card for yourself, an employee or a family member. We evaluate your situation to determine the most viable method of obtaining permanent residency. We will help you complete and file the appropriate paperwork with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

U.S. Naturalization And Citizenship

For most clients, naturalization is the next step following obtaining a green card that allows them to live and work in the U.S. Naturalization is the complex process by which a foreign national can become a U.S. citizen. In order to be eligible for naturalization, a permanent resident must be 18 years of age, have good moral character, be able to read, write, and speak English, pass a civics test demonstrating knowledge of U.S. government and history, and meet other requirements:

  • Employment-based visa/green card holders: Lawful permanent residents may be eligible for naturalization after five years, if other requirements are met — such as being physically present in the U.S. for at least 30 months of the five years.
  • Family-based visa/green card holders: Spouses of U.S. citizens may be eligible for naturalization once they have been a lawful permanent resident for three years and meet other requirements — such as having lived with the citizen spouse for the entire three years in marital union.

U.S. Immigration Law Grants Automatic Citizenship To Some Children Born Abroad

Most U.S. citizens acquire citizenship by being born in the U.S., or through a process called naturalization. However, there are certain people born abroad who can acquire citizenship automatically. The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 grants automatic citizenship to the biological and adopted children of parents who are U.S. citizens. These complex laws and regulations provide for citizenship by acquisition and derivation.

How To Get Automatic Citizenship

The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 generally benefits children who were born outside the United States, are under 18 years of age and have at least one parent who is a U.S. citizen.
To qualify for automatic U.S. citizenship, a child must:

  • Meet the definition of “child” under immigration law
  • Be under 18 years of age
  • Have at least one parent who is a U.S. citizen by birth or through naturalization
  • Reside in the United States under the legal and physical custody of the parent who is a U.S. citizen
  • Be a lawful permanent resident

If the child is legally adopted, he or she must meet all adoption requirements under immigration law.

How To Get Automatic Citizenship When Over 18

Because citizenship law has changed over the years, if the person is now over 18 years of age, USCIS looks to the relevant law that was in effect before the child turned 18 to decide if the person acquired U.S. citizenship. This means that every few years these complex laws and regulations that provide for citizenship by acquisition and derivation changed. To determine which of the laws apply contact Litwin & Smith at for a personal consultation.

How To Prove You Are A Citizen

A qualified child does not need to file an application to establish U.S. citizenship, but the child will need a certificate of citizenship, which can be obtained by filing form N-600. This will ensure that all the requirements for citizenship have been met.

Once the form has been filed, an immigration officer will determine if an interview is necessary. If so, the applicant must meet with an officer and bring:

  • All original documents of the copies submitted when filing form N-600
  • Any additional documents that will establish if the child qualifies for citizenship
  • Certified translation of documents not originally in English

How To Get More Information

These are the general requirements, but some unique situations may require additional steps. For more information contact Litwin & Smith at or visit /immigration-overview/Green-Cards-Naturalization.shtml

Our South San Francisco naturalization lawyers have successfully guided countless clients through the naturalization process. We have the experience and resources necessary to prepare all applicable paperwork, comply with filing requirements, ensure clients are prepared for English and civics tests, and complete all other aspects of the legal process.

Contact An Immigration And Naturalization Lawyer

Contact one of our knowledgeable and experienced immigration law attorneys at Litwin & Smith to discuss your needs. Reach our office by calling .

Please visit our Immigration Articles page for a full listing of detailed articles regarding immigration and naturalization law.

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Litwin & Smith Pleasanton, CA Office

5829 Stoneridge Mall Road, Suite 218,
Pleasanton, CA 94588


5201 Great America Parkway,
Suite 320, Santa Clara, CA 95054