Naturalization is the acquisition of United States citizenship and nationality by a foreign national. From the outside, naturalization seems to be an easy process. An experienced immigration lawyer understands that naturalization requires careful preparation to avoid making an ill-advised application that can result in extreme hardship to a foreign national including denial of naturalization and even permanent removal from the United States.

naturalizationAttorney Steven Langer requires that every client who applies for naturalization to undergo a background investigation similar to that utilized by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). He also understands that USCIS wrongly denies some applications. Thankfully, citizenship is a right and not something awarded as a matter of discretion. Therefore, an applicant can seek review of a wrongful denial of naturalization within USCIS or in United States District Court.

The classic scenario of naturalization is a foreign national coming to the United States and becoming a lawful permanent resident. A lawful permanent resident files an application with USCIS to become a United States citizen after being a lawful permanent resident for a certain number of years and also being present in the United States during that time. Many applicants must be lawful permanent residents for five years. In the case of a spouse of a United States citizen, the spouse usually can apply for naturalization after three years. Some lawful permanent resident spouses can get around the waiting period and become United States citizens immediately. Generally, it requires the United States citizen spouse be deployed overseas for military service or other certain activities in the national interest.

Currently, service in the United States military can allow a lawful permanent resident to naturalize upon completion of basic training.

In addition, the military at times allows many visa holders to naturalize under a special program. For example, an F-1 student visa holder who has a bachelor degree in a medical field may be able to join the Army Reserve. During the basic training process, usually near or at the time of graduation, the foreign national takes the Oath of Allegiance and becomes a United States citizen. Also, the program when active allows persons who speak certain languages to naturalize in exchange for a certain length of active duty military service. Persons interested in such a program should contact Mr. Langer’s office to be prescreened before approaching a military recruiter about the program.

A little understood area of naturalization concerns derivative citizenship. In the context of naturalization, in many cases, when the parents of a minor lawful permanent resident naturalize, the child also becomes a United States citizen.

Frequently Asked Questions

I have been a Lawful Permanent Resident for five years. How long does it take to complete the naturalization process?

The naturalization process at the Oklahoma City Field Office of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services normally takes approximately 90 days from filing to attending the public ceremony where approved applicants take the Oath of Allegiance and receive their Certificates of Naturalization. The Oklahoma City field office did experience delays within the last year. However, that situation appears to be changing with some interviews occurring within 60 days of filing the N-400.

My father is an older person. He does not speak English very well. Can he get around the English language component of the naturalization interview?

Normally, each applicant must take English language and civics tests. The civics test consists of up to 10 questions asked by the interviewer. The English language test includes reading a simple sentence in English, writing a simple sentence in English and demonstrating throughout the interview that the applicant is conversant in the English language. Certain exceptions exist regarding the civics and English language requirement. Persons who are 50 years or older on the date of their application with at least 20 years of permanent residency may waive the English language requirement. Persons who are 55 years or older on the date of their application with at least 15 years of permanent residency may waive the English language requirement. Persons who are 65 or older take the test in their native language and also take a simplified civics test. The civics and English language requirements may be waived for persons with demonstrated disabilities or health conditions. Steven Langer is experienced in obtaining and presenting the proper medical documentation to USCIS to obtain such a waiver.

Do you attend the naturalization interview with your clients?

Steven Langer will review your case with you before your interview. You will be prepared for the interview. And, Mr. Langer never allows a client to appear for a naturalization interview without himself or an associate attorney being present.


Most Americans take citizenship for granted. Due to our attitudes toward citizenship, certain bureaucrats within our federal government sometimes seek to deny the right of citizenship to Americans. A burgeoning area of law for immigration attorneys is citizenship.

United States laws concerning acquisition of citizenship at birth embody two legal principals: 1) The law of the soil and 2) The law of the bloodline.

What is law of the soil or jus soli? It is a rule of common law under which the place of a person’s birth determines citizenship. In addition to common law, this principle is embodied in the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and the various U.S. citizenship and nationality statutes.

What is law of the bloodline or jus sanguinis? It a concept of Roman or civil law under which a person’s citizenship is determined by the citizenship of one or both parents. This rule, frequently called “citizenship by descent” or “derivative citizenship,” is not embodied in the U.S. Constitution, but such citizenship is granted through statute. As U.S. laws have changed, the requirements for conferring and retaining derivative citizenship have also changed.

Derivative citizenship is also a term applied to foreign born adopted children of United States citizens who meet certain conditions. It also used in the context of naturalization when discussing certain minor children when their parents naturalize.

Do citizenship questions arise for persons born on United States soil? Yes. Due to a certain amount of fraud in border areas, the government may at a certain point in the life of an American born in one of these areas question that American’s citizenship. In these cases, Oklahoma City immigration attorney Steven Langer seeks to put together evidence proving that “more likely than not” the person being questioned is indeed a United States citizen.

In cases involving derivative citizenship, Mr. Langer first determines the law applicable at the time of birth. Facts to be reviewed include presence in the United States of the parent before the foreign birth of the child, whether the child was legitimated, whether the child is married and even in certain cases grandparental history must be reviewed.

Mr. Langer then determines whether the appropriate route for obtaining proof of citizenship. Options include registration of foreign birth, obtaining a United States passport or seeking a certificate from United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.