Citizenship & Naturalization
There are three ways to obtain U.S. citizenship: by being born in the United States, by being born to a U.S. citizen or through the naturalization process.
In most situations, a person is eligible to apply for Naturalization if they meet the following requirements:
- Applicant has been a lawful permanent resident for five years (or three years for spouses of United States Citizens)
- Applicant is 18 years old or older
- Applicant is of good moral character
- Applicant can speak, read, and write English
- Applicant must pass a test on U.S. history and government
- Applicant was physically present in the U.S. at least half the requisite time (5 years)
- Applicant has maintained lawful permanent residence continuously
- Applicant swears loyalty to the U.S. by taking an oath of allegiance
(note: minor children of U.S. naturalization applicants may also be eligible and included in a naturalization application, under certain circumstances)
The naturalization process starts by obtaining lawful entry into the United States and then gaining legal permanent resident status. To obtain this status, a person must live in the country for five consecutive years, or three years if the person is the spouse of an American citizen. Other qualifications include being 18 years of age or older, being able to read and write English and having good moral character and allegiance to the U.S.
Being a U.S. citizen allows you the right to vote, hold public office, travel on a U.S. passport, and sponsor citizenship for your family members. At the law firm of Michael G. Murray, P.A., you will find a lawyer who has the knowledge to assist with the naturalization process.
Naturalization requires more than simply filing the appropriate paperwork. It is important that we review your case to identify any potential roadblocks. Minor criminal offenses or lengthy absences from the U.S. are issues that need to be carefully addressed. Some of the areas in need of careful consideration are as follows:
Once you become a naturalized citizen, there is still the risk of revocation of naturalization, which is yet another reason to hire an experienced immigration lawyer to assist you in the naturalization process.
Are you already a citizen and did not know?
Acquisition of Citizenship
Under the Child Citizenship Act, if you were born abroad, you have at least one U.S. citizen parent and you have your green card, you may be a U.S. citizen by operation of law and eligible for citizenship documents, or you may be able to acquire citizenship by presenting certain evidence to the authorities.
Also, if you are a lawful permanent resident when your parent naturalizes, you may be eligible to become a U. S. citizen through a process known as “derivation of citizenship.”
If you are interested in pursuing citizenship or you think you may already be a citizen, contact our office for a consultation.
An Austin immigration lawyer – Abogados de Inmigracion en Austin TX – can help you determine if you meet the continuance residence requirement for naturalization. Learn more by contacting Michael G. Murray, P.A today!
The challenges to expect during the process
Regardless of the reason why you want to become an American citizen, there are some common issues that you need to have at the back of your mind before or during the application process. Of course, you can understand and even avoid some these issues by having a qualified citizenship lawyer by your side. Here’s a brief breakdown of what I’m talking about.
The long wait
If you’re seeking naturalization, it’s important to be patient. Note that the time it takes for the average person to get naturalized has doubled in the past 24 months. Currently, you may have to wait for around eight months for the USCIS to process your N-400. The whole process of naturalization comprises a number of steps, and you may need to wait for up to 17 months before you take the oath, depending on a number of factors. These include the following:
- The number of cases being handled by the USCIS at the moment
- Your residence or the USCIS office where you applied. Your naturalization process can be shorter if your USCIS field office processes applications fast
- Whether you filled in the right information on your N-400, and whether you filed it correctly
Remember that the waiting times have doubled due to the stringent screening requirements.
As an applicant, you will be asked to disclose your legal history; this includes criminal matters, such as failing to pay child support. Such issues can work against you if you’re unable to demonstrate clearly that you have resolved them, and that you have good character.
If you’re not familiar with the infractions that could hurt your chances, you can seek legal advice from an experienced immigration attorney. Keep reading to discover, in more detail, the main reasons why you need one of our experts to assist you with the process.
Why you need an expert citizenship lawyer
Hiring a skilled citizenship lawyer is crucial to successfully complete your journey to becoming a United States citizen. Here are a few reasons why.
You get to avoid costly mistakes
As you already know, one of the most important parts of acquiring U.S. citizenship is filing the correct paperwork. The paperwork is extensive; it can get overwhelming and complicated. Being able to read and write in English may not be enough, so you’ll need an immigration law expert to help you dodge the countless possible mistakes. Your attorney will walk you through the right steps to apply for citizenship to ensure you complete the application process successfully.
You get to understand your options clearly
Whether or not you speak fluent English, you don’t have continuous residence in the U.S., you’re already facing deportation or anything else that you think makes your situation unique, having an expert to explain your options and the most appropriate actions is critical. Your attorney will help you understand the entire scope of your situation so that you know what to expect and do moving forward.
Secondly, you need to understand that even when your application is denied, your citizenship attorney can also help you understand the other options you may have.
In 2019, more than 97,000 naturalization applications were denied. That’s almost twice the number of denied green card applications. On top of that, today, there are hundreds of thousands of naturalization applications pending.
Although it can feel devastating, having your citizenship applications denied doesn’t have to be the end of the road for you. You can appeal the denial by using the N-336 and request a hearing. You can also file a fresh naturalization application, file a Motion to Reopen, or file a Motion to Reconsider. Of course, you need a good attorney to help you understand what all these terms mean, and the most appropriate option for you, depending on your circumstances. When you appeal the denial of your naturalization, you get another shot at becoming a U.S. citizen. You can also avoid being given the notice to appear in an immigration court for removal proceedings.
You benefit from their experience
Any successful citizenship lawyer has obviously helped many immigrants achieve their dream of becoming American citizens. It’s vital to hire someone who has helped countless people in your position, as such an individual understands quite well what has been making their applicants successful, and what has not been working.
To learn more about your eligibility for naturalization, your options or any other issue concerning your citizenship application, contact Michael G. Murray, P.A. today!