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Naturalization

Helping You Achieve the American Dream

One of the greatest joys of working in the immigration law field is helping clients achieve their goals of becoming citizens of the United States. The process, though challenging, is ultimately very rewarding when all is said and done.

 

According to recent Department of Homeland Security data, many immigrants that are already in the U.S. lawfully and eligible to Naturalize, never get around to doing so. Of the estimated 13.6 million green card holders living in the United States at the beginning of 2019, about 9.2 million were eligible to Naturalize.

Reasons often cited for failing to apply include tax considerations, an inability to meet the English language requirement, a fear/suspicion of putting oneself into the hands of the government, and ambivalence about the importance of Naturalization. For certain residents of the U.S., an enduring patriotism to their home country is a critical factor. Some countries, including China, Japan and Iran, generally do not permit their citizens to take on a second nationality, forcing a difficult choice. Whether to seek Naturalization or not is a personal decision on the part of each immigrant, and requires balancing numerous considerations.

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In contrast to U.S. citizens, lawful residents cannot vote, make their home in a foreign country or remain outside the United States for extended periods of time. Residents are ineligible for a U.S. passport, and certain protections afforded to Americans abroad. Residents are ineligible for many government jobs and are eligible to petition for fewer types of family members for visas than can citizens. Residents can be deported for violating any of a wide variety of immigration and criminal laws.

Eligibility requirements for US citizenship

  • Be a lawful permanent resident of the United States for 4 years and 9 months (or 2 years and 9 months, if you are living in a marital union with your U.S. citizen spouse; some exceptions exist where the couple lives apart due to circumstances beyond their control, such as U.S. military service or business or occupational demands, even for a prolonged period);

  • Be physically present in the United States for over 50% of the required residency period;

  • Be a person of good moral character in the five years prior to applying — or three if applying through marriage;

  • Take an oath of loyalty to the United States;

  • Be able to speak, read and write simple words and phrases in the English language (unless you qualify for a Medical Disability Exception); and

  • Pass a test in US history and government.

Naturalization Process

In general, the process includes the following steps

  • Determine if you are already a U.S. citizen.

  • Determine your eligibility to become a U.S. citizen.

  • Prepare Form N-400, Application for Naturalization.

  • Submit Form N-400, Application for Naturalization.

  • Go to the biometrics (fingerprinting) appointment, if applicable.

  • Complete the naturalization interview.

  • Receive a decision from USCIS on your Form N-400, Application for Naturalization.

  • Receive a notice to take the Oath of Allegiance.

  • Take the Oath of Allegiance to the United States.

  • Understand your rights and responsibilities as a U.S. citizen.

There can be pitfalls to obtaining citizenship. People who have been arrested or convicted of certain crimes, and people who have spent long period outside the United States must be particularly cautious. If you made a decision to pursue Naturalization, schedule a consultation with our Legal Group to review your eligibility and ensure compliance under U.S. immigration law.