Immigration Law for

Citizenship and Naturalization

On Becoming a U.S. Citizen: Why Citizenship Lawyers Play a Significant Role

Becoming a US citizen is probably one of the most coveted goals of many people, whether they are still dreaming of living here or are already immigrants in this land of opportunities, America.

The road to becoming a U.S. immigrant is long and for many, even bumpy at times. For some, meeting the requirements is the culmination of the very personal journey of earning US Citizenship, a very rewarding point in one’s life, indeed. When you finally completed the years required when you can apply for a U.S. Citizenship, would you jeopardize this status by botching your citizenship application?

For many, filing the application may be the most challenging part of earning U.S. citizenship. Going through and making sure that the whole application is in good order all the way to being sworn in, as a bona fide naturalized citizen of the United States of America can be very overwhelming.

In this article, we will show you why the competent and professional services of citizenship lawyers bear so much weight in every step of the naturalization process.

The Role of Citizenship Lawyers

The possibility of getting your application denied is real – that is even before taking the citizenship test. Since the installation of the Department of Homeland Security, the application process has become more stringent in that it involves assessing your immigration record from the very first instance you set foot on American soil, as well as any records you may have from whatever country you come from. Because of these, it will be of great benefit for you to have someone who knows the law to a tee. You need to seek the help of citizenship lawyers.

Lawyers for Citizenship Cases Know the Rules for Both Eligibility and Ineligibility

For one thing, citizenship lawyers will know if your application will inevitably be denied. It is worth mentioning this as many have tried filing only to be rejected because they have one or more warrants that are outstanding issued years ago. For this reason, it would be an excellent idea to be upfront with the citizenship lawyer you hire, if in the past you have had any trouble with the law.

Before submitting your Form N-400 Application for naturalization, citizenship lawyers can sort out all those issues and thus, help you avoid the hassle of going through the process and also save you the money for the filing fee for an application.

Hiring the Best Citizenship Lawyers

The written test for citizenship is considered straightforward and easy; indeed, there is no need to worry about it. However, the best citizenship lawyers will ensure all twenty-one pages of your application are filled out and completed accurately, and this will avoid any unnecessary complications or delay.

One might think that there is nothing to filling out the application form. However, an application may be denied many ways because you may not qualify for citizenship.

Any inconsistencies with your current application from one that you may have submitted previously, arrests or outstanding warrants can all result in a denied application and in some cases, appearing before an Immigration Judge in Removal Proceedings or deportation. Unpaid taxes can also result in denied applications.

In this article, you will find valuable information to understand better the whole naturalization process. Of course, working with lawyers for citizenship cases has much more benefits any written material can cover. Most importantly, you will be saving yourself a lot of hassle trying to complete the application and making sure you did not miss anything. Work with competent citizenship lawyers and make it easy on yourself.

Understanding Citizenship and Naturalization

A good percentage of immigrants have lived and worked in America for well over five (5) years and thus are eligible for naturalization. The reasons why they do not pursue citizenship vary. This is a puzzle to some who are eagerly waiting to apply for this privilege and start receiving the countless benefits that go along with it.

Citizenship is neither a responsibility nor a requirement. It allows you to be just a resident of the country. Once naturalized, you can belong to the great United States of America. A person may have been born in another country, but now he or she will be an American.

To be an American is a prized personal achievement, and it comes with numerous benefits. The Department of Homeland Security expresses that the United States has a long history of welcoming immigrants from all over the world. America values the varied contributions of immigrants, which to this day are enriching this country and preserving its heritage as a land of liberty and opportunity. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is proud of its role in keeping our country’s principles as a nation of immigrants and swears to administer the benefits of immigration and naturalization with integrity.

Citizenship to the United States of America is what binds the people of this country to uphold civic ideals and the belief in the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the United States Constitution. The promise of citizenship is based on the fundamental value that all people are created equal and serves as a unifying characteristic that allows people of all backgrounds, whether native or foreign, to have equal participation in the future of the United States.

Having met the five years eligibility requirements and the prospect of reaping all the benefits of a U.S. citizenship, make sure to get your application approved. Hiring a citizenship lawyer is a sure way not to be denied naturalization.

What is naturalization?

Naturalization, a term in immigration law, means the process of becoming a US citizen. It is only through the completion of the requirements of naturalization, a significant personal achievement, indeed, that you can finally call the United States of America, your home or call yourself an American, for that matter.

To apply for naturalization, you need to have met specific requirements for eligibility, primarily of which is by first maintaining the status as a lawful permanent resident (LPR).

First, Are You Already a Citizen of the U.S.A.?

It is worth mentioning here that some people may already be an American citizen because you may not need to apply. For instance, people who were born on American soil, which includes any of the U.S. states, Washington, DC and American territories abroad. Citizenship can also be derived by having an American parent, by birth or through naturalization. If you meet any of these criteria, consult with an experienced citizenship lawyer before starting the naturalization application. He will advise you what proof you will need to present as well as what forms you will need to file to claim US citizenship.

Eligibility Requirements for Naturalization

  • If you hold a green card without special circumstances, you can apply for US citizenship at least five (5) years after obtaining your green card. You must also have physically lived in the United States for at least 30 months (two and a half years) of those five years. These are all part of earning U.S. Citizenship.
  • If you have been married to a U.S. citizen for at least three years and have lived with your spouse throughout that time, you can apply for US citizenship – at least three years after obtaining your residence card. You must also have physically lived in the United States for at least 18 months (one year and a half) of those three years, and your spouse must have been a US citizen for at least three years.
  • If you have been widowed – the widow or widower of a U.S. citizen who died while serving honorably in the U.S. military (and you were living with him/her at the time of death), you can apply for American citizenship at any time, as long as you are a green card holder during the time of your citizenship interview. It is not necessary that you have had a green card for a certain number of years or that you have physically lived in the United States for any number of months before submitting the application.
  • If you have served in the U.S. Army for at least one year during peacetime, you may submit an application while on active duty or within six months after an honorable separation from the military. It is not necessary that you have had a green card for a certain number of years or that you have physically lived in the United States for any number of months before applying for naturalized citizenship.
  • If you have served in the U.S. Army for less than one (1) year during peacetime, you can file for U.S. citizenship five years after obtaining your green card (honorable service within this five-year period can also count toward that required time). You must also have physically lived in the United States for at least two and a half years (or 30 months) of those five years.
  • If you have served in the U.S. military for at least one year during peacetime or after six months of honorable separation from the military, you can apply for U.S. citizenship five years after getting your residence card (an honorable service within these five years can also count for that time requirement). You must also have physically lived in the United States for at least 30 months (two and a half years) of those five years.
  • If you have served in the U.S. military for some period during a war, you can request it at any time, and you do not need to be a green cardholder. You (or your military spouse) need only to have been physically living in the United States of America (including U.S. territories) or aboard a U.S. ship when you enlisted, re-enlisted, extended your service or entered the military service.

It is not necessary that you have had a green card for a certain number of years (if you have one) or that you have physically lived in the United States for any number of months before applying for citizenship.

Still not sure if you are eligible for naturalization? Get a citizenship lawyer to help you verify your eligibility. When you are ready to apply, lawyers for citizenship cases can guide you through every step of the naturalization process, first with your N-400 application all the way to the oath taking.

Requirements for Naturalization

In addition to three or five years after obtaining your residence card (unless you submit an application based on qualified military service), you must also meet the following requirements:

  • You have to be at least 18 years old.
  • You must not have made any trip lasting six months or more outside the United States during the waiting period of three or five years.
  • You must have been living in the state where you plan to apply for citizenship for at least three months.
  • You must have a “good moral character” – broadly defined as a character that conforms to the standards of the average citizens of the community. However, to be more specific, it means you did not commit certain crimes such as murder, illegal gambling or intentionally lying to the US government, for instance, falsifying any information given at any time during the application and presentation of documents and lying during the naturalization interview. The government decides on a case-by-case basis if an applicant meets this requirement.
  • You must pass a two-part naturalization test: 1.) English language test (reading, writing, and speaking skills) and 2.) A civic education test (knowledge of the history and government of the USA).
  • You must have the willingness to serve in the US Military or provide civil services in the United States if called to do so.
  • You must be willing to register with the Selective Service System if you are a man living in the US between the ages of 18 and 25.
  • You must be willing to defend the Constitution of the United States.

There are also many exceptions based on age and health condition or disability. Be sure to consult with citizenship lawyers as your circumstances may exempt you from taking the English Test and/or the Civics Test.

Naturalization Fees

The current filing fee set by the U.S. government for naturalization applications is $725, which includes $640 (for processing) and $85 (for biometrics services). Applicants who are in the military service are exempt from both the application filing fee and the biometrics fee. Applicants older than 75 are exempt from the biometrics fee.

Below is an explanation of the naturalization process. Although here it is in black and white, it must be reiterated that the sound advice of competent lawyers for citizenship cases has more advantages to offer. Hiring a citizenship lawyer is still your best bet to becoming a US citizen.

The Naturalization Process

The following is a brief description of the naturalization process.

How to Apply for U.S. Citizenship

 

Step 1: Application for Naturalization

Submit a Naturalization Application (Form N-400) and pay the filing fee (unless exempted; see details above). You have the choice to complete and submit a paper application or do everything online. If you submit an application online, you must first create an account online with the US Citizenship and Naturalization Service (USCIS).

If you make the request based on your military service, if you are filing from abroad, or seeking a reduction or exemption of fees, you cannot complete your application online. You must mail your request to the appropriate USCIS office.

A 90-Day Advance Filing Rule

 For those seeking to expedite the process, you can take advantage of a 90-day advance filing rule; you can send your N-400 to USCIS as soon as 90 days before reaching your three or five-year waiting period as a green card holder. Nevertheless, you must have met all other requirements of eligibility, and you must still wait three or five full years to become a US citizen. The early submission allows you to move forward in the application process rather than wait it out. Hire a citizenship lawyer to guide you in filling out Form N-400 completely and accurately.

Step 2: Biometrics Appointment

The next step is to schedule your biometrics appointment. Your fingerprints will be taken at your local USCIS office. For the marriage-based green card process, USCIS will do the fingerprinting during naturalization, for the purpose of enabling them to perform the necessary background check. The fingerprinting appointment generally takes place approximately one month after USCIS receives your U.S. citizenship application.

Step 3: Interview and Citizenship Test

What to Expect During the Interview

 The citizenship interview is usually scheduled about 14 months after submitting your application. However, the exact time it will take to process your naturalization request depends largely on the local USCIS office handling your case, which is assigned based on the applicant’s zip code.

During the interview, a USCIS officer will verify that all the information in your naturalization request is correct. The interview is usually held at the nearest USCIS office. If you apply from abroad, you will attend the interview at a US embassy or consulate. If you are on active military service, your interview can be conducted in a military installation.

What the Exam is About

 During the interview, the USCIS officer will also give you a two-part naturalization test (unless you qualify for an exemption. (This is the reason the citizenship interview is also known as a “citizenship test.”) The first part of the test is an English test language, which will evaluate your spoken and written English skills. The second, a civic education test will assess your knowledge of US history and basic information on how the US government works.

These tests are quite basic, and USCIS provides study materials to help you prepare. You will also have two chances to take the exams by request. You may retake the test later and retake only the portion that you did not pass the first time. A citizenship lawyer can also help you prepare for this exam. Thus, there is no reason to worry or stress yourself, thinking you will not pass.

If you pass the interview and the exam, the USCIS officer will approve your request at the end of the interview. In some cases, USCIS may request additional documentation or schedule a second interview.

If you are not approved, USCIS will send you a rejection letter explaining why, but you can appeal your decision within 30 days of receiving the notice or request it again. A USCIS policy on denied applications that took effect on September 11, 2018, underlines the importance of submitting the correct information on the naturalization application and meeting all the requirements correctly the first time. This is just another reason why the services of lawyers for citizenship are so vital in the naturalization process.

Step 4: Pledge of Allegiance

Finally, you have reached probably the most emotional stage of the process, as many who have experienced it testify. Upon approval of your application, you will attend a ceremony to take the oath of allegiance. You must complete this step. You are not a US citizen until you have made the Pledge of Allegiance.

After your citizenship interview, you will then receive a notice in the mail with information regarding the date, time, and location of the oath-taking ceremony (usually a local court or USCIS office). How long it takes to schedule the ceremony varies by state.

You will be asked to return your green card when you register. Once the ceremony is over, you will receive a Certificate of Naturalization and begin your life as a US citizen!

Benefits of Naturalization

Becoming a US citizen is the logical next step for most green card holders, especially if their intention is to make the United States their residence for the long term.

The benefits of US citizenship that are not available to green card holders include:

  • You cannot be removed or deported to your country of previous citizenship or nationality. As a naturalized citizen, you will have as much right as any other American to live and work in the United States. Even if you are accused of a crime in the future, you may remain in the US (In recent news reports, however, it has been indicated that the US government plans to carry out more “denaturalizations” based on previous criminal offenses, this should not affect the vast majority of naturalized US citizens.)
  • You can now travel, and be the envy of many people, with one of the most coveted passports in the whole world. A U.S. passport is an important benefit of U.S. citizenship; right after receiving your Naturalization Certificate, you may apply for one. With a US passport, you can travel to more than 180 destinations for short-term trips without a visa, make as many trips abroad as you want for as long as you want and seek help from the local US embassy in moments of trouble. Clearly, these are significant rewards of becoming a US citizen!
  • You can get federal benefits available only to US citizens. Upon naturalization, you will get full access to certain government assistance programs, such as Social Security and Medicare, which green card holders can only access for a limited time. You can also take advantage of most federal college assistance programs that are not available to non-U.S. citizens.
  • You can request a green card for your relatives. You can sponsor your parents, adult children, and siblings for their own residence cards.
  • Your children automatically become US citizens, even if they were born abroad. Simply report your child’s birth to a US embassy or consulate. Check with lawyers for citizenship cases, if you need guidance.
  • Immigration paperwork will be something you do not have to deal with anymore. You will not need to renew your green card or pay immigration application fees. Nor will you have to notify USCIS every time you change addresses.
  • You can apply for jobs with the US government. Most federal jobs are reserved for US citizens only. Although each job has its pros and cons, federal employees and their families tend to receive relatively better benefits and profits than private-sector workers.
  • You can vote in any US election since only U.S. citizens can vote in federal polls. Non-citizens can only vote in some local elections.
  • You can apply for an elected office. US citizenship is required for federal offices and for most public office positions at the state and local levels.

Conclusion

Becoming a US citizen is a coveted personal achievement. However easy or difficult it may have been for you to earn this status, the benefits are immeasurable and so worth all the effort and money to get it done. Save yourself from all the hassle and many hours of going through a 21-page application form, not to mention sleepless nights worrying from not knowing if you are eligible, to begin with, or if you have done it correctly. It is really in your best interest to hire the most competent attorney among the multitude of lawyers for citizenship cases.  Hire one now!

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