Becoming a U.S. citizen is a dream for many people across the world. The United States has been titled the land of opportunity for the privileges and benefits that come along with taking part of this Nation. Many of the privileges derived from obtaining citizenship include the right to vote, travel, better job opportunities and overall a more sustainable lifestyle.
There are a variety of pathways towards citizenship offered by the current immigration laws of the United States. However, to become a citizen, an applicant must obtain permanent legal status and maintain their green card for the required duration of either three years if married to a U.S. citizen or five years if not.
Majority of the Naturalized U.S. citizens obtain their permanent legal status through a family petition from their spouse or an immediate family member. Others, through a business- or work-related petition from an employer and a smaller number of individuals are self-petitioners after taking part in a humanitarian program such as VAWA.
Naturalization is the process by which someone becomes a United States citizen. It allows a lawful permanent resident to become a full-fledged citizen with the full rights and benefits that entails. In most cases, the process can take several months, even when you have everything in the proper order on your end. It’s helpful to work with an immigration lawyer who can ensure that you are following the procedure properly. There are several components to the naturalization process, including:
- Eligibility – The first step to naturalization is making sure that you are eligible. You must be at least 18 years of age. You also must be a lawful permanent resident of the United States. Since most people who are interested in naturalization come from the family immigration process, this isn’t usually an issue. However, if you are in the United States on some kind of non-immigrant visa, you will have to petition for an adjustment of status first to receive your green card. You will also need to have lived in the United States for five years without interruption, or three years if you’re married to a U.S. citizen. You also need to have been present in the country for at least half of that time. Finally, you must be willing to take an oath of allegiance to the United States, pass a civics and English test, and demonstrate good moral character.
- Form N-400 – Filling out an N-400 form is the first legal step to naturalization. Along with the form, you must present the required documentation to support your eligibility. It’s critical that the form and supporting documents are properly filled out or else it can lead to delays. The surest way to have your paperwork done properly is by working with an immigration lawyer like those at Passage Immigration Law.
- Interview and Tests – You will need to interview with an officer of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. The interview will cover your application and ask questions for more detail on your background and situation. While you are there, you will also need to take a test on your English language ability and understanding of U.S. civics. If your application is approved and you pass the tests, you will be given an invitation to a naturalization ceremony.
- Biometrics – Before you can become naturalized, you will need a biometric appointment at a local Application Support Center. This will typically involve fingerprinting and photographing.
- Naturalization Ceremony – The capstone of the naturalization process is the naturalization ceremony. During this ceremony, you will take an oath of allegiance to the United States and its Constitution. After that, you will receive a certificate of naturalization. It’s important that you take care of this certificate and keep it safe, as it is a legal document.
Once the naturalization process is completed, there are a few other things that you may want to take note of and be aware of, including:
- Rights and Responsibilities – Once you are an official U.S. citizen, you have the responsibility to do things like serve on a jury when asked or pay taxes. You will also have the rights of an official citizen, such as applying for a United States passport and the opportunity to vote in U.S. elections.
- Updating Records – Once you are officially a U.S. citizen, you will want to make sure that you update your records with the Social Security Administration and other government agencies.
How a Lawyer Can Help
Working with an immigration lawyer can help take a lot of the stress out of pursuing U.S. citizenship. At Passage Immigration Law, we have a thorough understanding of the process as well as the kinds of difficulties and challenges that can sometimes come up. We can help ensure that the procedures and steps are being followed properly and that you are making progress toward your goal. Some of the things that we can help with include:
- Confirming Your Eligibility – One of the things that we often help our clients with is confirming that they are eligible for the naturalization process. Although the qualifications can seem straightforward, there are often some issues or difficulties in proving some aspect of the qualifications. We can help get these things sorted out before you really begin the process of naturalization. If you don’t yet meet the requirements, we may be able to give some advice on how to meet them or even help with something like an adjustment of status if needed.
- Paperwork – There’s nothing in the immigration process that doesn’t seem to require a lot of paperwork. The forms can also sometimes be confusing for those who are unfamiliar with them. Additionally, making sure that you have proper documentation can also be tricky. Every case is a little bit different, which means that the supporting documentation can be a little different. Helping ensure that you have a proper application, with the correct forms and appropriate supporting documents, is a significant portion of what we do. With our help, you can feel comfortable knowing that you are submitting the right documents to the USCIS.
- Potential Issues – An experienced immigration lawyer can also help with addressing some potential problems in your application process before they become significant issues. Getting ahead of these problems is often the likeliest path to solving them, and we can help you do just that. Our experience allows us to see issues that others might not notice, which can help you avoid delays.
We Can Help You on Your Journey to Citizenship
One of the most rewarding aspects of working in immigration law is helping people reach their goal of becoming United States citizens. The process along the way, though, can sometimes be challenging, as unexpected problems can happen in even the simplest case. We are ready, though, to help our clients address whatever issues might emerge. We are able to rely on both a comprehensive understanding of the law as well as the kind of knowledge that only comes with having practiced the law and seeing it applied in real-life situations. If your aim is U.S. citizenship, we can help you achieve it. Contact us today to discuss your situation.