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Law On Citizenship

( Originally Published 1918 )

There is no more prized possession of man-kind than that of citizenship.

There is no more important duty laid upon mankind than the exercise of the functions of citizenship. The safety, the development and growth of the nation depends upon it.

Citizenship is, primarily, a matter of the place of birth, those being born in a certain country becoming by that very act, a citizen of that country. There are exceptions to that rule, such as children of those in the diplomatic service of other nations, who, although born in a foreign country, nevertheless retain the citizen-ship of the country of their parents.

Citizenship not attaching by the fact of birth, may, in the United States, be acquired in the manner provided in the statutes, but subject to certain exemptions.


How Aliens May Become Naturalized.—Any alien who is a white person or of African nativity or African descent, may be eligible to become a citizen of the United States, and if he desires to become naturalized he is required to file a declaration of intention in the clerk's office of a United States District Court or some other court of record in the State or Territory, having a seal, a clerk, and an unlimited jurisdiction as to amount in controversy. The power of such courts to naturalize is limited to persons residing within the geographical limits over which their respective jurisdiction extends.

The Declaration of Intention may be filed any time after their arrival in the United States, and after he has reached the age of eighteen years. This declaration must be under oath and state that it is the alien's bona fide intention to become a citizen of the United States, and to renounce forever all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty, and particularly, by name, to the prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty of which he may be at the time a citizen or subject. And such declaration must set forth the name, age, occupation, personal description, place of birth, last foreign residence and allegiance, the date of arrival, the name of the vessel, if any, in which he came to the United States, and the present place of his residence in the United States.

Petition for Naturalization.—Not less than two years nor more than seven after the alien has made such declaration he may file a petition for citizenship in the proper court as above specified, provided he has lived at least one year continuously, immediately prior to the filing of such petition, in the state or territory in which said court is located. The petition must be signed by the petitioner in his own handwriting and duly verified. It must state his full name, place of residence, occupation, date and place of birth, place from which he emigrated, name of the vessel on which he arrived; the time when and the place and name of the court where he declared his intention of becoming a citizen; if he is married, he shall state the name of his wife, the country of her nativity, and her place of residence at the time the petition is filed, and if he has children, the name, place and date of birth, and place of residence of each child living. The petition shall also set forth that he is not a disbeliever in or opposed to organized government, and that he is not a polygamist or a believer in polygamy, that he intends to become a citizen of and to live permanently in the United States, and that he absolutely and forever renounces all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign country of which he may, at the time of filing such petition, be a citizen. The petition shall also be verified by the affidavits of at least two credible witnesses, who are citizens of the United States, and who shall state in their affidavits that they have personally known the applicant to be a resident of the United States for a period of at least five years continuously, and of the state, territory, or district in which the application is made for a period of at least one year immediately pre-ceding the date of the filing of his petition, and that they each have personal knowledge that the petitioner is a person of good moral character, and that he is in every way qualified, in their opinion, to be admitted as a citizen of the United States.

Witnesses to Petition Must Testify in Open Court.—At the hearing upon a petition, which shall be at a date fixed by order of the court, the witnesses are required to again attend and testify in open court so that the judge or judges thereof may be satisfied that the petitioner is qualified and that he has complied with all the requirements of the law.

No petition may be heard until the expiration of at least ninety days after it is filed nor within thirty days preceding a general election.

Must Be Able to Speak English.—No alien shall hereafter be naturalized or admitted as a citizen of the United States who cannot speak the English language.

A Woman Married to an American Citizen, who might herself be lawfully naturalized, may become a citizen by compliance with all the requirements.

Married to an Unnaturalized Alien, an American woman does not lose her citizenship, unless her husband is ineligible to citizenship.

An Unmarried Woman of foreign birth may become naturalized in the same manner as pre-scribed for foreign-born men. This also applies to widows.

Titled Aliens.—Any alien who has borne a hereditary title or been a member of an order of nobility must renounce such title or position expressly before becoming naturalized.

No Alien may become naturalized, if physically capable, who does not speak the English language.

Minor Resident Aliens.--A person having arrived in the United States under the age of eighteen years, after reaching that age, and at least two years before his admission, may file his declaration of intention, and then after he is twenty-one and has resided in the United States for five years, including his minority, he may be admitted to citizenship.

Widow and Children of Declarant.—If an alien should die after he has legally filed his declaration and taken the necessary oath or affirmation, but before he is actually naturalized, then his widow and children are entitled to all the rights and privileges of citizens upon taking the required oaths or affirmations which would have been required of him.

Children of Naturalized Persons.—Children of naturalized persons, if under twenty-one years of age at the time of the naturalization of their parents and residing in the United States, are considered as citizens thereof; and the children of citizens of the United States, though born in a foreign country, are citizens of the United States.

Certificate of Naturalization.—A person who has been naturalized according to law is entitled to a certificate, which is issued under the hand of the clerk and seal of the court. Such certificate may in certain circumstances be of much importance to a naturalized person and should be obtained and preserved.

Eligibility.—Any free white alien or any alien of African nativity or descent is eligible. Anarchists, Chinese.

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