Becoming a United States citizen is something millions of people dream of, but the process of getting there is not easy. The steps you must take are very important, and one small error could result in a denial. Below, our California immigration lawyer outlines the steps and can guide you through them when it is time to apply.
Dealing with the United States immigration system, including applying for citizenship through naturalization, can be time-consuming, frustrating, and costly. It is highly advisable to obtain your past records and have a full evaluation with an immigration attorney prior to submitting an application for naturalization.
There are a number of eligibility requirements you must meet before you apply for citizenship. You could be eligible if:
You must also have a good understanding of the English language, show good moral character, and meet certain residency requirements. There are certain circumstances where USCIS will find that you lost or otherwise abandoned your lawful permanent resident status through actions following your initial grant of lawful permanent residence, or because your initial grant of permanent residence was not obtained properly. This makes the process of applying for naturalization far riskier than just being promoted to new status once you meet the time requirements. It is highly advisable to obtain your past records and have a full evaluation with an immigration attorney prior to submitting an application for naturalization.
If you are eligible, you must downloadForm N-400 and fill it out entirely. You will have to provide information about your past and current residences, past and current employers, your family members, education, the time you have spent outside of the country, and other personal information.
Along with your application, you will also have to submit two photographs and a copy of your current green card, if applicable. After you have collected all of the necessary supporting documents, send the entire package to the appropriate service center, along with the filing fee. An immigration attorney can help you determine which documents are required, based on your personal and immigration history.
After the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) receives your application, they will contact you about getting your fingerprints taken. They will notify you with a letter stating the time and place you must appear to have this done. Bring the letter, photo identification, and your green card with you to the appointment. The fingerprints are used to conduct a criminal background check on you.
A lawyer can help you gather the necessary documents you will need for the interview and will let you know what you can expect at the interview. The interview is the opportunity for the USCIS Officer to review your forms and supporting documentation with you, and determine your eligibility for the benefit you are requesting. You will most likely be expected to understand your full immigration history. You must bring the original documents for the Officer to examine. It is highly advisable to have your attorney present with you at your interview.
One of the final steps of becoming a United States citizen is to attend a naturalization interview. You will be notified of the time and date by USCIS, and it is advisable to arrive 30 minutes early. You should bring your passport, your green card, originals of any supporting documents submitted with your application, ID, and any permits you may have. You will have to answer questions about your personal background, your application, and confirm that you are willing to take the Oath of Allegiance to the United States.
Part of the naturalization interview also involves a U.S. civics test, and a test that measures your ability to read, write, and speak in English. There are some exceptions to the English exam based on your age and length of time as a lawful permanent resident.
Once you have had your interview, the USCIS will inform you whether they will grant you citizenship, continue your case, or deny the application.
After being granted citizenship, you will have to take theOath of Allegiance to the United States before you become a U.S. Citizen and receive your Certificate of Naturalization. That completes the citizenship process.
For many, there is nothing better than the security that comes with being an American citizen. If you are about to apply, our Salinas immigration lawyer at Miranda, Magden & Miranda can provide the sound legal advice you need, and help you navigate the entire process. Call us today or contact us online to schedule a consultation.
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