In order to file an N400 citizenship application to get American Citizenship, a foreign national has to first get their green card (become a USA “Permanent Resident”).

After being in Lawful Permanent Resident (green card) status for 5 years, most foreign nationals are eligible to file the N400 citizenship application for American citizenship.

When a person file an N400 citizenship application to apply for American citizenship, it is called “naturalization.”residence and physical presence requirements for naturalizationThe waiting period for green card holders to file an N400 citizenship application is only 3 years if the green card holder has been married to a U.S. citizen for three years  and has been living in marital union with the same U.S. citizen spouse during the previous 3 years.

Why Should I Pay to Become a USA Citizen? 

Because you:

  • Want to be treated equally with other USA citizens;
  • Are tired of being questioned by Immigration Officers at the American airports;
  • Want the freedom of living outside the USA whenever you want;
  • Are tired of carrying the green card around;
  • Are worried that the rights of green card holders will be taken away;
  • Want to sponsor a family member for a green card;
  • Are tired of paying to renew the green card; and,
  • Want to vote for the next American president.

Citizenship Applications for DUI Green Card Holders

In many states it is still possible to file an N400 citizenship application and become a U.S. citizen even though a green card holder has one (or sometimes two) convictions for DUI drunk driving in your past.

Many green card holders with a DUI or DWI in their background may wish to hire an American immigration attorney who has experience with citizenship applications and DUI convictions to file their citizenship application to have the best possible chance of getting it approved.

The immigration attorney examines the police report, the court documents, the exact language of the state statute, the wording of the plea bargain (or conviction if the case went to trial) and the sentencing documents before the N400 citizenship application is submitted, in order to see whether the person is (a) eligible for citizenship and (b) will not lose their green card.

Certain documents concerning the DUI conviction should be submitted with the citizenship application, but others should not — and an immigration attorney knows which documents to submit.

Check it Out Before Filing the N400 Citizenship Application with a Petty Theft Conviction

Shoplifting (often called petty theft) is normally considered a misdemeanor if the value of the merchandise is less than a certain amount, usually $300 or $500. Before filing an N400 citizenship application it is necessary to establish that a person has been a person of “good moral character” for the past 5 years (3 years for persons married to a U.S. citizen). Is having a petty theft conviction considered “bad moral character?”

Not always.  A single arrest for one petty theft sometimes may be excused under the “petty theft exception”  so long as the person is still not on probation at the time of the N400 citizenship interview, and so long as they were not sentenced by the judge to 12 months jail time (even if the jail time was “suspended” and they spent no time in jail).

An immigration attorney can tell from reading your petty theft court documents whether you should file an N400 citizenship application or not.

danielle nelisseIf you have had an arrest, charges (even if dismissed), or criminal conviction, please do this prior filing your N400:

  1. Obtain a copy of your criminal file from the criminal court that handled your criminal case.
  2. Find a local immigration attorney (who knows your state’s criminal laws) and ask them to review your criminal file and tell you whether you should/can file the N-400 or not.  You will probably have the pay them for the legal consult, but this is important do to. The immigration attorneys are all listed on AILA (American Immigration Lawyers Association) at