Knowing When & If You Should Apply for Naturalization

In some cases, an immigration attorney may simply provide guidance as to whether you meet the continuance residence and good moral character requirement to file for naturalization. In some case, your immigration lawyer may advise waiting for the impediment to expire until you file.

In some instances, an application for naturalization may cause a lawful permanent resident to face removal proceedings because of immigration or criminal issues from their past. Such immigration problems arise from certain acts or omissions committed by the lawful permanent resident which may cause them to become “deportable aliens.” Upon discovery of these issues during the naturalization process, USCIS may refer the lawful permanent resident for deportation proceedings. If you have any issue in your past or present, which you believe will affect your eligibility for naturalization, contact an immigration lawyer before you file.

The offices of Michael G. Murray, PA have assisted numerous clients become naturalized citizens despite those individuals having been convicted of deportable offenses. Sometimes the advice is to file, knowing the application will be denied and referred to the immigration judge. This strategy is ONLY utilized for individuals with strong equities in the U.S., which qualify the individual for relief in immigration court.

It is important to understand that when a lawful permanent resident applies for naturalization, he or she will be inviting USCIS to review their entire record. When you apply for naturalization, USCIS will conduct a criminal background check to determine your eligibility.

This background check should consist of a review of all government records, local and foreign police department checks and a neighborhood investigation of the area where you’ve lived and been employed or conducted business for the past five years.

Recently the USCIS is making a diligent effort to consolidate foreign nationals’ files from the time they applied for non-immigrant visas up until their application for naturalization. This results in a more rigorous scrutiny of documents and information previously submitted in the context of nonimmigrant visa applications, immigrant visa applications, etc. Some of the issues, which come up during the naturalization interview are as follows:

  • Whether the foreign national misrepresented on the consular application when he or she applied for the initial visa stating that they were not married when in fact they were;
  • Whether a parent applied an immigrant visa petition for an unmarried son or daughter when in fact they were married;
  • Whether the foreign national divorced a wife in his home country, entered the US on a visitor’s visa, thereafter obtained permanent residence through marriage to a US Citizen, then divorced the US Citizen and subsequently re-married his previously divorced foreign national spouse; this scenario may cause accusation that there was a scheme or a pattern to defraud the US government.
  • Entering the US using an alias or a fraudulent passport.
  • Whether there was a conviction in the home country which would have rendered the foreign national inadmissible and such conviction was concealed at the time of the initial visa application before the US consulate.
  • Whether the foreign national had been in immigration proceedings previously.
  • Whether the foreign national committed fraud or willful misrepresentation of a material fact in any previous employment – based immigration process such as applying for permanent residence through an employer but never showed up to work for such employer.
  • Outstanding parking ticket. Applicants are often surprised to discover at their naturalization interview that an unpaid parking ticket resulted in a bench warrant. This can lead to an arrest since USCIS will not generally look behind a bench warrant and will simply hand the applicant over to ICE or local law enforcement.
  • Failure to pay taxes. Applicants who fail to file a tax return or pay taxes are precluded from establishing their “good moral character.”

Based on the above, lawful permanent residents pursing naturalization should make sure to contact an experienced immigration attorney before filing their applications for naturalization.

An Austin immigration lawyer – Abogados de Inmigracion en Austin TX – can help you determine if now is the time to file for naturalization. Learn more by contacting Michael G. Murray, P.A today!

Coronavirus update: We are safely open for business! USCIS is still accepting new filings for all applications. Our office is offering virtual consultations for new clients so that you don't have to come to our office in person. Call us to schedule your virtual meeting today.
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