A Legal Permanent Resident of the United States (“green card” holder) becomes eligible for naturalization after 5 years (3 if he or she is married to a United States citizen) of permanent residence, provided he or she spent at least half of that time within the United States, with no absences of more than 6 months at a time.

This may sound straightforward enough, but things are not always so simple. An ill-timed and poorly thought-out naturalization application, far from leading to United States citizenship, can land the unwary in deportation proceedings, particularly if the applicant has a criminal record.

Other factors should be considered: What of the applicant’s nationality of origin? Some countries discourage or outright prohibit dual citizenship. And what are the tax consequences of United States citizenship?

We recommend a careful assessment of each case before filing the application.