When an individual is not born a U.S. citizen or did not obtain citizenship immediately after birth, then they will have to obtain citizenship through other means. There are many benefits to being a U.S. citizen such as the right to work and reside in the U.S. and to hold a U.S. passport, serve in a jury, register to, and vote, among many others. While there are many options for citizenship through visas or a green card, one option is through naturalization.
Naturalization is becoming a citizen through legal means, there are many procedures that the applicant must go through, and many qualifying standards they must meet in order for their application to be accepted. The applicant must reside in the U.S. for a minimum amount of set time, must promise to obey and uphold the country’s laws and, in some cases, must have a clean criminal record.
Naturalization can be a very difficult process depending on a number of factors. When applying for citizenship, the applicant must meet many standards, possibly be fluent in English and understand the constitution, as well as many other factors. There can be a lot of stress and anxiety placed upon the applicant throughout the application process; this is why it is important to have an attorney on your side to give you legal advice, and to help you by answering questions throughout the process.
Are you eligible?
The Department of Homeland Security U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has created a worksheet to determine whether or not a permanent resident is eligible for naturalization in the U.S. The Eligibility Worksheet is designed to be used by persons who are 18 years of age or older and are considering applying for naturalization based on the number of years that they have lived in the country as a permanent resident. That being said, the Department of Homeland Security’s worksheet should not be used by:
There are two types of ceremonies that can be used to complete and solidify the naturalization process. The first type of ceremony is referred to as the judicial ceremony, by which the court will administer an Oath of Allegiance. The second type of ceremony is the administrative ceremony, by which the USCIS will administer an Oath of Allegiance. Regardless of which ceremony you participate in, you will be asked to return your permanent resident card at the time that you check in for the ceremonial ritual of solidifying your naturalization. After you have taken the Oath of Allegiance (at which time you will be officially considered a United States citizen), you will be presented with your Certificate of Naturalization. Once the ceremonial process has been completed, you can officially apply for a U.S. Passport and update your Social Security Record.
What are the requirements to apply for naturalization?
Those who are at least 18 years of age, have been a permanent resident for a specific amount of time (usually over five years), have a “good moral character” and have a solid understanding of U.S. history, government and English are able to apply for naturalization. Those who have honorably served in the military are also eligible if they meet other qualifications.
Which form do I use to file? Where do I send it?
When filing for naturalization, you will use the “Application for Naturalization” (Form N-400) and will send it to a USCIS Lockbox Facility. Before dropping it off, make sure that you have made a copy and that you are not sending any original documents unless otherwise specified.
What is the average timeframe for naturalization?
Typically, this process lasts about six months after the filing of the Form N-400. There are, however, currently efforts to expedite this so that the process can be streamlined and therefore shorter.
After being granted naturalization, does that mean I am a citizen?
Almost! As soon as you have officially granted naturalization by UCSCIS, all you need to do is partake in a formal ceremony where you take the Oath of Allegiance. This can sometimes be done in conjunction with your interview, but may be held on separate days.
I was denied my application – now what do I do?
There are still steps for you to appeal a denial of naturalization. By scheduling a hearing, you can submit an official letter detailing why you believe that your application was wrongfully denied. To do this, you will need to submit the letter, along with the Form N-336, within 30 days of the denial. In some cases, you may be able to reapply (for example, if denied on grounds of failing the naturalizaiton test).
Immigration through any form can be a very difficult process, whether it is through naturalization or another means of acquiring citizenship. A New York immigration lawyer from Pozo Goldstein, LLP will be able to help you throughout your application process by providing information, sound legal advice, and answering any of your immigration questions. There are countless issues that can arise, and having a skilled attorney from our firm on your side will minimize the strain on you.
At Pozo Goldstein, LLP we are intent on providing the best possible legal aid to all of our clients. We offer a free in-house case evaluation or consultation as well as 24/7 contact availability, nights, weekends and holidays. We believe in extensive one-on-one personal service with each of our clients in order to better understand the case at hand, and to know how to better aid you in your application.