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Welcome to my new blog series, "A Lawyer Explains," where I'll explain the different Immigration services we help our clients navigate. As a seasoned Immigration Attorney, I want to explain the typical process many applicants experience when applying for U.S. Citizenship. Please note that every applicant's case is different, so we recommend that you consult with a licensed Immigration Lawyer to ensure a smooth and easy process.
● Demystifying Naturalization
● Determining Eligibility for Naturalization
● The Typical Process of Naturalization
● Advantages of Becoming a U.S. Citizen
● Pitfalls to Avoid During the Naturalization Process
Naturalization is the formal route that a foreign citizen or U.S. resident can take to become a U.S.citizen, provided specific requirements are met. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) oversees this process. Successful completion allows Naturalized Citizens with the complete spectrum of U.S. citizenship rights, freedoms, and responsibilities.
Before embarking on the Naturalization process, it is important to understand the eligibility requirements.
● Age: Applicants must be at least 18 years of age.
● Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) Status: Applicants must have a valid green card for at least five years (or three years if wedded to a U.S. citizen).
● Continuous Residence: Applicants must have continuously lived in the U.S. for the required period of five years if single, or three years if married to a U.S. citizen.
● Physical Presence: Physical residency in the U.S. is mandated for at least half the mandatory residence period.
● Good Moral Character: Applicants must exhibit good moral character, adhering to U.S. laws and regulations and avoid one or more criminal convictions
● English Language Proficiency: A rudimentary understanding of English - both written and spoken - is required.
● Knowledge of U.S. History and Government: Applicants need to pass a civics test on U.S. history and government.
● Oath of Allegiance: Pledging allegiance to the United States is required.
The naturalization process may appear difficult at first, but breaking it down into manageable steps makes it easier to understand. Every applicant's case can differ, so I recommend consulting with a qualified Immigration Lawyer like me, but the typical U.S. Citizenship process is as follows:
Step 1: Confirm Eligibility. Make sure that the applicant meets all eligibility criteria mentioned above.
Step 2: Prepare and complete the Application for Naturalization, Form N-400 and gather all necessary supporting documents.
Step 3: Submit the Application for Naturalization, Form N-400, supporting documents, plus requisite fees to USCIS.
Step 4: Attend the biometrics appointment scheduled by USCIS to collect fingerprints, photographs, and signatures.
Step 5: Prepare for the Citizenship Test using the study resources provided by USCIS to prepare for the English and civics tests.
Step 6: Attend an in-person interview by USCIS, where an officer will assess the applicant's eligibility and administer the citizenship test.
Step 7: Await the decision. USCIS will review the application and reach a decision, such as approval, denial, or a request for additional evidence.
Step 8: If approved, attend the naturalization ceremony and pledge allegiance to the United States, thus officially becoming a U.S.citizen.
Step 9: After the oath-taking ceremony, applicants will be given a Certificate of Naturalization to confirm U.S. citizenship.
Becoming a U.S. citizen through Naturalization provides many privileges, including but not limited to Voting Rights. U.S. citizens earn the right to vote in federal, state, and local elections. U.S. Citizens are granted wider travel liberties with many countries offering visa-free or visa-on-arrival privileges to U.S. passport bearers. U.S. citizens have elevated access to federal jobs and government benefits, including Social Security and Medicare, the ability to bring family members into the U.S. with fewer restrictions and shorter wait times, and finally, U.S. citizens enjoy the peace of mind that comes with the immunity from deportation.
The path to Naturalization can be complex and steering clear of these common missteps can significantly improve an applicant's chances of success:
● Incomplete or Erroneous Application: The N-400 Form must be completed accurately, as errors could result in postponements or denials.
● Insufficient Documentation: Submittal of all required corroborating documents.
● Failure to Update USCIS about Address Changes: USCIS must be updated immediately of any changes in address within ten days to ensure receipt of crucial communications.
● Missing Appointments: Attending all scheduled appointments, including biometrics and interviews to avoid holdups or application denials by USCIS.
● Lack of Preparation for Citizenship Test: USCIS provides resources to prepare for the English and civics tests.
Embarking on the journey to U.S. citizenship via Naturalization can seem challenging, but it is an attainable process with the right preparation and guidance from a licensed Immigration Lawyer. At Crescent Law, PLLC, we aim to help you understand the process and enjoy the privileges of being a U.S. Citizen. We're dedicated, diligent, and passionate about helping you fulfill your American dream, give us a call today!