Naturalization Frequently Asked Questions

Who is eligible to apply for U.S. naturalization?

To be eligible for U.S. naturalization, you generally must meet these requirements:

Be a lawful permanent resident (green card holder) for at least 5 years (or 3 years if married to a U.S. citizen).

Be at least 18 years old.

Have continuous residence in the U.S.

Have physical presence in the U.S.

Be of good moral character.

Demonstrate basic knowledge of U.S. government and history.

Demonstrate the ability to read, write, and speak basic English.

How do I apply for U.S. naturalization?

The application process typically involves:

Completing and filing Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Attending a biometrics appointment.

Participating in an interview with USCIS.

Passing the English and civics tests (unless exempt).

Taking the Oath of Allegiance to become a U.S. citizen.

What is the English and civics test, and do I need to take it?

The English and civics test assesses your knowledge of the English language and U.S. government and history. You may be exempt from the English test if you are 50 years old and have been a lawful permanent resident for at least 20 years, or if you are 55 years old and have been a permanent resident for at least 15 years.

How long does the naturalization process take?

The processing time for naturalization varies but typically takes several months. USCIS provides estimated processing times on their website.

Can I travel outside the U.S. during the naturalization process?

Traveling outside the U.S. during the naturalization process is allowed, but you should follow USCIS guidelines, inform USCIS of your travel plans, and ensure that you meet the residency and physical presence requirements.

Do I need to hire an attorney to apply for naturalization?

While you are not required to hire an attorney, some applicants choose to do so, especially if they have complex immigration histories or concerns. An attorney can provide guidance and assistance throughout the process.

What happens if my naturalization application is denied?

If your naturalization application is denied, USCIS will provide a written explanation for the denial. You may have the option to appeal the decision or reapply, depending on the reasons for the denial.

Can I apply for U.S. citizenship if I have a criminal record?

Whether or not you can apply for U.S. citizenship with a criminal record depends on the nature and severity of the crimes committed. Some criminal convictions can lead to denial of your naturalization application. It’s advisable to consult with your immigration attorney for guidance if you have a criminal record.

Can I apply for U.S. citizenship if I owe taxes or have financial issues?

Owing taxes or having financial issues may not necessarily prevent you from applying for U.S. citizenship. However, it’s important to address these issues and consult with your attorney to ensure you meet all eligibility requirements.

Can my family members become U.S. citizens through my naturalization?

Eligible family members, including children under 18, may derive or acquire U.S. citizenship through their parents’ naturalization, depending on specific circumstances. Consult with USCIS or your immigration attorney for guidance.
Ross Gregory
Ross Gregory
Tony Montana
Tony Montana
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Vishnu Prashanth
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Aadia Mujawar
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Dana Davidson - Full Bio

Dana T. Davidson holds degrees from the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law and State University of New York at Stony Brook and has been practicing immigration law since 2003 in New York and nationwide. She represents corporations, individuals, and families in a broad range of immigration matters. Attorney Davidson has offices in New York City and Glen Cove.


  • Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, Yeshiva University, New York, New York
  • Juris Doctor – 1988
  • Honors: Moot Court Board, Member, Judge
  • State University of New York at Stony Brook, Stony Brook, New York
  • Bachelor of Arts – 1982
  • Major: Political Science
  • Concentration: Business

Pro-Bono Activities

  • Safe Passage Project, Volunteer Attorney, 2013-Present
  • Educating the Educators, Founder, 2012-Present
  • Momentum Project, Board Member, 1991-1994 Bar Admission
  • New York, Eastern District
  • New York, Southern District
  • Washington, D.C.

Speaking Engagements
  • AILA RDC-EMEA Spring Conference 2018, Berlin, Germany, Speaker on “Public Charge” panel
  • AILA RDC-EMEA Fall Conference 2018, Johannesburg, South Africa, Speaker: “Practice Management in the New Age” panel
  • AILA RDC-EMEA Spring Conference 2018, Madrid, Spain, Speaker: “El Traje de Luces: Self-Sponsored Petitions – EB-1A and NIW”  AILA RDC-EMEA Spring Conference 2017, Brussels, Belgium, Speaker: “Continuing Blanket L Challenges”
  • Safe Passage Project, March 2017, Speaker: “Representing Unaccompanied Minors: Special Immigrant Juvenile Status and the Effects of President Trump’s Executive Orders on Immigration”
  • AILA RDC-EMEA Fall Conference 2016, Speaker: “It’s Not About Money: I-864”
  • AILA RDC-EMEA Spring Conference 2016, Vienna, Austria, Speaker: “K-Visa: Differences Between K-1 and I-130 Processing”
  • New York Institute of Technology’s Center for Entrepreneurship, January 2016, Entrepreneur/Executive-in-Residence
  • AILA Fall Conference 2015, London, UK, Speaker: Impact of joint sponsors on family-based cases
  • Goldman-Sachs 10,000 Small Business Education Program, October 2014, “What is required to grow a business?”
  • Dowling College, May 2013, Keynote Speaker at the first annual Latino Summit at Dowling College
  • International Taxation Conference, 2010