The starting point for acquiring the U.S. citizenship is to have the status of permanent resident and to stay in the USA for an appropriate period of time. Poles who live in the USA may become dual citizens, which is also allowed by the Polish Citizenship Act. The acquisition of the U.S. citizenship brings many benefits and obligations towards the state, but above all there is no need to further struggle with emigration procedures.It also allows for a quicker and easier change in the emigration status of family members of a U.S. citizen. The ways of acquiring the U.S. citizenship are regulated by the Immigration and Nationality Act passed by Congress in 1952. The acquisition of citizenship by a person not born in the U.S. is called naturalization.

An applicant for naturalization must be a permanent resident of the United States, in other words, he or she should have held a green card for at least five years before applying for citizenship. Moreover, this person is required to physically stay in the United States for at least two and a half years during the last five years of permanent resident status. In some cases, these periods are significantly reduced.

If you are married to a U.S. citizen, you must have been physically present in the USA for one and a half years during the last three years as a permanent resident and spouse of a U.S. citizen. Service in the U.S. armed forces entitles you to apply for citizenship after one year. In each case, however, you must have lived for three months before applying for naturalization in the district in which the application is filed. The acquisition of U.S. citizenship also enables a U.S. citizen to bring his or her family members back to the United States much faster and facilitates his or her children to acquire the U.S. citizenship.

One of the most common reasons for refusing a tourist visa for a family member of a person residing in the United States is that the applicant will return to Poland after visiting his or her spouse in the USA. The U.S. citizen can apply for a green card for his or her spouse and the processing of the application is much quicker so that there is no longer any fear of refusing to issue a tourist visa. It is also possible to apply for citizenship for his or her children regardless of whether they are currently residing in the USA, if they are under 18 years of age and the applicant has been physically present in the USA for a total period of not less than five years of which at least two years after reaching the age of fourteen years. The applicant for U.S. citizenship must also have certain personal qualities that qualify him or her for naturalization. Such applicant should be of good character proven by his or her criminal record and general attitude.

If you have made a false declaration to the immigration authorities in order to obtain a visa, you may be disqualified in the naturalization process. It is also required to pass U.S. history, constitutional and language examinations, but there are exemptions from this requirement. The physical presence in the USA during the period before submitting the application for citizenship is extremely important and often problematic. In many cases, leaving the USA for more than six months interrupts the period during which we can count the time of physical presence in the USA. It is, therefore, not possible to stay continuously for two and a half years during the last five years in the USA. The intervals between stays in the USA during this period must not be less than six months.  

attorney-at-law Jarosław Kurpiejewski

Contact us:

Warsaw office: biuro@ilaszlawfirm.com

New York office: office@ilaszlawfirm.com