There are a variety of ways that a person might acquire United States citizenship. Of course, a person becomes a U.S. citizen by birth if he or she is born in this country, even if the individual is a citizen of another country. Dual citizenship is held, and United States law doesn’t require him or her to choose citizenship of one country or the other.

When Born Abroad or in a U.S. Territory

If you were born in a territory of the United States like Puerto Rico or Guam, and you have a birth certificate, you’re a U.S. citizen by birth. If you were born outside of the United States or one of its territories, and at least one of your parents is a U.S. citizen, your birth certificate can be recorded with the U.S. Embassy in the nation you were born in. Assuming recordation was before your 18th birthday, your parents can apply for and obtain a Consular Report of Birth Abroad. This document operates to confirm your United States citizenship.


When the naturalization process is invoked, a person who isn’t a U.S. citizen voluntarily becomes a citizen through a legal process. The basic requirements of that process are to have lawful permanent residency (Green Card) in the United States for at least five years or at least three years if you’re married to a U.S. citizen. Naturalization must be sought at least six months before your Green Card expires. If it has expired, you can still seek naturalization so long as you submit a photocopy of the payment receipt for your Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card. There is a specific process that a person must go through to become a naturalized U.S. Citizen. Our Central Valley immigration lawyers at Maison Law Immigration Lawyers can explain it to you.

Citizenship Through Asylum

Asylum may be granted to a foreign national who arrives at the U.S. border or who is already in this country and a refugee. A refugee is defined as a person who is unable or unwilling to return to his or her country of origin and can’t obtain protection in that country because of past persecution or a well-founded fear of being persecuted in the future because of race, religion, nationality or membership in a particular social group or political opinion. Such fear must be credible and reasonable. Pursuant to U.S. immigration law, the United States must protect people who qualify as refugees or those who are seeking asylum.

The Citizenship Process for Asylees

The first step for an asylee to become a U.S. citizenship is to obtain lawful permanent residence in the United States by having a Green Card issued to him or her. An asylee is eligible to apply for a Green Card after one year of being granted asylum if he or she has maintained uninterrupted residence in the United States. The applicant must be physically present in the United States at the time of submitting their petition for lawful permanent residence. Assuming asylum is granted, the asylee can then apply for U.S. citizenship 5 years after lawful permanent residence is approved.

Obtaining asylum status, lawful permanent residency and United States citizenship are confusing and complicated tasks. You’ll want a knowledgeable and effective Central Valley immigration lawyer at your side from the start. If you intend on seeking U.S. citizenship through asylum, contact Maison Law Immigration Lawyers for a consultation. We want to see you reap the benefits, protections and future that U.S. citizenship has to offer.