Naturalization

Naturalization

The United States is a nation of immigrants. Throughout the history, immigrants have come here seeking a better way of life and have strengthened the nation in the process. Deciding to become a U.S. citizen is one of the most important decisions in a person’s life. If you decide to apply for for naturalization, you will be showing your commitment to the United States. You will also be showing your loyalty to its Constitution and its people. When you are naturalized, you agree to accept all of the responsibilities of being a citizen. In return, you are rewarded with all the rights and privileges that are part of citizenship.

Naturalization is the way immigrants become citizens of the United States. If you were not born a citizen, you must be naturalized to become one. Being a U.S. citizen is more than just a certificate, it is a perspective that is focused on equality and freedom. Progressing from green card ownership to citizenship provides much and also requires much, so make sure you consider what will be asked of you before applying.
Citizenship comes with a variety of benefits and rights such as the freedom of speech and religion as well as the right to vote, run for election, federal employment, a fair trial by jury.
Conversely, to whom much is given, much is required. Becoming a citizen also comes with a set of obligations that every American citizen needs to fulfill such as participation in the democratic process of voting, answering jury summons, paying taxes, and abiding by federal and state laws.

Eligibility

You may qualify for naturalization if:

  • You have maintained permanent residency within the U.S. and fulfilled all other requirements for eligibility.
  • You are the spouse of a U.S. citizen who has maintained permanent residency within the U.S. and fulfills all other requirements for eligibility.
  • You have served or continue to serve in the U.S. armed forces and fulfill all other requirements for eligibility.
  • Your child may be qualified for naturalization if you, the parent, are a U.S. citizen, the child was born in a foreign country, the child is presently in a foreign country, and fulfills all other requirements for eligibility.
  • The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) also requires that individuals applying for naturalization are:
  • A minimum of eighteen years of age
  • Residents who have been physically and continuously present in the United States for at least five years at the time of application
  • Of good merit and moral character

Good moral character is an umbrella term that takes your criminal history, financial integrity, and personal life into account. An immigration officer will review factors such as misdemeanors, felonies, taxes and your marriage to determine if you are a fit candidate for citizenship. A qualified naturalization lawyer can help you get from a green card to citizenship by helping you analyze which factors contribute to good moral character. An attorney can also determine what steps are necessary if any of these factors could keep you from becoming a citizen or interrupt your naturalization timeline.

There are several exceptions to the residency naturalization requirements if there was time spent outside the country. You may also qualify through other paths to naturalization if you do not qualify through the paths described above. However, if you spend more than a year outside the U.S., you may be in danger of violating your continuous presence. This may or may not have a negative effect on your citizenship eligibility, but the time spent abroad will not count toward your five years of continuous residence.
You must also live in the same district or state that you are applying toward in the 3 months leading up to your application. Each district is divided according to the USCIS service office that has jurisdiction in that area.

Requirements

Our citizenship lawyers have assisted several green card holders with naturalization,  including many complex cases involving prior convictions. Generally, you can submit an application to become a U.S. citizen if you are at least 18 years old and you:

  • have been a permanent resident of the United States for five years; or
  • are married to a U.S. citizen for at least three years; or
  • are currently serving in the US military.

If you are a U.S. citizen who has a child that was born outside of the U.S. and currently lives in a foreign country, your child may also be qualified for naturalization. Additionally, you must satisfy the following requirements:

  • Satisfy physical presence requirements.
  • Evidence of good moral character;
  • Demonstrate knowledge and attachment to the U.S. Constitution; and
  • Ability to read and write basic English; and
  • Demonstrate knowledge of U.S. history and government

The USCIS provides an in-depth naturalization eligibility worksheet to help you conclude if you are qualified for citizenship both mentally and legally.

Application Process

Although the application process is complex, here’s a brief outline of how it works:

  • First, complete the citizenship application or N-400 form and send it to USCIS along with a copy of your green card, the required photos and a check for the processing fees. (Contact a citizenship attorney for help filing.)
  • Next, you’ll be required to attend the in-person interview. Depending on the backlog this could take several months to schedule. This interview will test your basic understanding of U.S. history and proficiency of English as well as your background and dedication to the United States.
  • From there you will have to set an appointment for biometrics at a local USCIS office. You will also take a U.S. Oath of Allegiance to demonstrate your commitment to being an American citizen.

Your biometrics are an important part of the naturalization process and not following the instructions concerning your appointment carefully can result in a delay in your citizenship. It begins with including two passport-sized profile photographs and completed fingerprint cards with your N-400 form at the time of filing. At the time of the appointment, you need to bring the appointment notice as well as a valid form of photo ID. The USCIS has resources to help you prepare for your biometrics appointment. There are several issues that can complicate the naturalization process such as prior criminal issues, tax fraud, expired visas, deportation defense claims, expatriate declarations etc.

The Naturalization Interview

Once you have filed an application and completed the N-400, you will be scheduled for both an interview and a test that will examine your familiarity with civics or U.S. politics, your grasp of the English language, and your knowledge of the history of the United States. The interview will require you to answer several questions under oath concerning your eligibility for citizenship. These include questions about:

  • Your status as a legal permanent resident
  • Your background including your marriage and possible military history
  • Where you have lived and worked during your residency
  • Your moral character as explained above
  • Your relationship with constitutional principles
  • Whether you are willing to take a United States Oath of Allegiance

During the interview, your ability to speak the answers in English will also be examined. It is important to speak confidently and clearly to your USCIS officer. Being truthful, however, is even more important. If it is discovered that you were dishonest under oath in your interview, your citizenship will be denied and you may face more serious charges. Therefore, it is advised that you say “I don’t know” rather than lie if you are ignorant of the answer to a question.

The Naturalization Test

To pass the civics examination, you need to answer 6 of the 10 given questions correctly. It is important to note that American politics are constantly changing. Make sure that you are up to date with the most recent elected officials to be able to answer the questions correctly.

The reading and writing portion of your English test will require you to read one given sentence as well as write one sentence in a satisfactory manner. Studying vocabulary and understanding the kinds of possible sentences will greatly increase your chances of success. Needless to say, the interview is very important to the naturalization process. Failure to attend or failure to pass the tests will result in your citizenship case being closed and eventually denied. To avoid this, be sure to reschedule with the USCIS if you cannot make it to your interview. Enlisting the services of a qualified naturalization lawyer can help ensure that the process goes smoothly and without delay.

Filing Locations

If you live in one of these states: Arizona, California, Guam, Hawaii, Nevada, file your N-400 form to the following address:

California Service Center
Attention N-400 Unit 
P.O. Box 10400
Laguna Niguel, CA 92607-0400
If you live in one of these states: Alaska, Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming, file your N-400 form to the following address:
Nebraska Service Center
Attention N-400 Unit
P.O. Box 87400
Lincoln, NE 68501-7400
If you live in one of these states: Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Virgin Islands, Washington, D.C., West Virginia, file your N-400 form to the following address:
Vermont Service Center
Attention N-400 Unit
75 Lower Weldon Street
St. Albans, VT 05479-0001
If you live in one of these states: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, Oklahoma, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, file your N-400 form to the following address:
Texas Service Center
Attention N-400 Unit
P.O. Box 851204
Mesquite, TX 75185-1204

Naturalization Guide

This Naturalization Guide provides information on the benefits and responsibilities of citizenship, an overview of the naturalization process, and eligibility requirements. Complete Naturalization Guide Recent changes in immigration law and USCIS procedures now make it easier for U.S. military personnel to naturalize. Naturalization Information for Military Personnel.

How We Can Help Obtain Your U.S. Citizenship

The immigration attorneys at Rai & Associates are experienced in complex naturalization cases. We take great care to ensure that your naturalization application and supporting documentation are prepared accurately and filed with USCIS in a timely and efficient manner.

We will also coach you through test and interview preparation to ensure the best outcome in your U.S. Citizenship journey. Contact us for an immigration consultation to have an experienced naturalization lawyer determine if you are eligible for the process. You can always start this process by sending us your resume either by e-mail to info@hsrai.com or by fax to +1 415-693-9135.

Our U.S. Citizenship attorneys experience benefits you in several key areas. We:

  • Clarify options and potential scenarios surrounding your case.
  • Assist you in collecting the proper information and documentation.
  • Correctly classify the application and ensure requirements are met.
  • Prepare and submit all USCIS and Department of Labor (DOL) forms and documentation.
  • Communicate with the DOL and USCIS throughout the process.
  • Monitor the entire U.S. Citizenship application process.

U.S. Citizenship Attorney Experience & Responsiveness that Makes a Difference. Our U.S. Citizenship Attorney Pledge:

  • 100% commitment to processing your U.S. Citizenship quickly & successfully.
  • Strong U.S. Citizenship attorney experience & knowledge.
  • Open U.S. Citizenship Attorney communication & responsiveness is among our top priority.
  • Highest level of U.S. Citizenship Attorney service at an affordable FLAT rate.
  • To discuss your case call: (415)-693-9131 or Mail Us.
Something very important you may want to know

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. 1
    Do I need a lawyer to help me with my Naturalization Application? Why?

    Many naturalization applicants do not use a lawyer in their applications. Many of these applicants are successful, many are not. A naturalization application can quickly spiral into disaster if not handled correctly. The problems can cause delays, and often, denial. Many applicants who are denied naturalization are placed in removal proceedings. Thus, naturalization applicants who are one step away from citizenship can find themselves being deported from the United States following a failed naturalization application.

  2. 2
    How Long is the Process to Obtain U.S. Citizenship?

    It varies – depending of location. Generally, a naturalization application takes about five to seven months to process.  To find out how long applications are taking in your region of the United States,  please visit the USCIS’s list of field office processing times.

  3. 3
    When can a Permanent Resident Apply for Citizenship?

    Most commonly, a lawful permanent resident must wait five years before seeking naturalization. Spouses of U.S. Citizens can seek naturalization after three years of permanent residency. Additionally, the required time period may be shorter in special circumstances (e.g. being a member of the U.S. military).

  4. 4
    Do I have to wait until the five-year or three-year mark passes before applying for naturalization?

    No, applicants can apply up to 90 days before being eligible for naturalization.

  5. 5
    Is there any age limitations on naturalizing?

    In almost all instances, a person must be 18 before naturalizing to become a U.S. citizen.

  6. 6
    Is dual citizenship allowed by the United States?

    Yes, individuals can possess dual citizenship. The United States is not fond of dual citizenship, but recognizes that it is a part of long established international law. Although the United Stats allows dual citizenship, it is necessary to ensure that the other country also allows for dual citizenship. Many do not allow dual citizenship.

  7. 7
    Who must be registered with the Selective Service?

    Only males between the ages of 18 and 26 must register with the Selective Service. Not registering with the Selective Service does not permanently bar an applicant from becoming a naturalized citizen, but it may cause problems and should be handled with care before applying for naturalization.

  8. 8
    What does Good Moral Character Mean and Why should I care?

    To be eligible to naturalize, a person must demonstrate good moral character.  Good Moral Character can be demonstrated by NOT:

    • committing a crime involving moral turpitude
    • committing two or more offenses which result in conviction and the aggregate sentence imposed exceeds five years
    • violating a controlled substance law
    • admitting to have committed a crime described above, but never being formally charged, indicted, arrested or convicted
    • being confined to a penal institution (jailed) for an aggregate of 180 days pursuant to a conviction
    • giving false testimony to gain immigration benefit
    • being involved in prostitution
    • being involved in smuggling a person or persons into the U.S.
    • practicing polygamy
    • committing two or more gambling offenses
    • having earned income principally from illegal gambling activities
    • having been a habitual drunkard
    • by willfully failing to support dependent family members
    • committing adultery causing break-up of a family
    • failing to register for Selective Service
    • failing to file or pay income taxes

    If an applicant has committed one of the acts noted above, then naturalization may still be possible, but care must be taken before applying for naturalization.

  9. 9
    Are there any individuals who are barred from naturalizing?

    Yes, including:

    • deserters of the armed forces
    • advocates of anarchy
    • advocates of communism within past ten years, and
    • certain individuals who have been convicted of aggravated felonies.

  10. 10
    Must a naturalization applicant speak, read and write English?

    Yes, in almost all cases, a naturalization applicant must speak, read and write English. Exemptions to this requirement exist for applicants with physical disability or mental impairment, applicants over 50 years old who have resided in the United States as a permanent resident for over 20 years, or if the applicant is over 55 years old and has resided in the U.S. as a permanent resident for over 15 years.

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