Guide to the Naturalization Process for US Citizenship

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Explore the essential steps of the naturalization process to become a U.S. citizen with The Law Office of Tatiane M. Silva, P.A. guiding you through each phase with care. Call us.

Becoming a US Citizen Through Naturalization

There are two ways to become a United States citizen: By birth or naturalization. For many immigrants with a Green Card and lawful permanent residents, the naturalization route becomes the gateway to unlocking the full spectrum of benefits associated with US citizenship. This process involves meeting specific eligibility criteria, submitting Form N-400 to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and undergoing a naturalization interview and tests.

Therefore, understanding all the steps of the naturalization process is crucial for a successful application. Adequate preparation is critical, including gathering the necessary documentation and understanding each step. Having a good immigration and citizenship lawyer will make your naturalization application easier.

The Law Office of Tatiane M. Silva, P.A. is a law firm well-versed in immigration law, exploring challenges and finding tailored solutions for immigration and citizenship cases. Contact us for consultation for more information on naturalization, and get a suitable citizenship attorney for your case today.

Understanding Naturalization

Naturalization is the legal process through which a foreign national can become a US citizen and acquire consequent benefits. The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) of 1952 introduced naturalization as a legal means for deserving immigrants to achieve US citizenship. Before this, individual states handled their naturalization laws in the 1700s, undergoing numerous changes before the current laws.

Before initiating the process, candidates can confirm their US citizenship status by visiting a USCIS office and requesting assistance from a USCIS officer or accessing information on the official Citizenship and Immigration Services website. Familiarizing yourself with Form N-400 and its requirements is essential for a comprehensive understanding.

Eligibility Criteria

The basic requirements for naturalization include:

  • Applicants must be 18 years or older.

  • Holders of a Green Card and must have been lawful permanent residents in the US for at least five years.

  • No absence from the country for six months or more during the preceding five years.

  • Continuous residence in the district or state for at least three months.

  • Demonstrated good moral character

  • Should at least speak basic English

Additional eligibility criteria exist for those who are:

  • 18 years or older and married and living with a US citizen for at least three years 

  • Served in the United States Armed Forces for more than one year

  • Served for less than one year in the Armed Forces and have been a permanent resident for five years without leaving the country for six months or more.

  • Served in the US Armed Forces for over a year but did not file for naturalization within six months of discharge. This applicant needs to meet the basic requirements of the naturalization application.

  • A spouse to a deceased US citizen who died in honorable active duty. 

  • A non-citizen who owes allegiance to the country, meeting basic naturalization application requirements.

The USCIS provides specific categories and further details.

The Naturalization Process

A Step-by-Step Guide

Once you have confirmed whether you are not a US citizen, here are the steps to naturalization:

STEP 1: Check Eligibility

Assessing your eligibility for naturalization is the first step before filing the Form N-400. Consult your lawyer to confirm your eligibility and understand the basic requirements.

STEP 2: Filing the Form N-400

Thoroughly review USCIS instructions for completing Form N-400 and submit the form with the required documents that support your eligibility.

STEP 3: Submitting the Form N-400

Ensure you submit the naturalization application form on time, along with the required fees. A receipt notice from the USCIS will be issued, aiding in tracking the case status.

STEP 4: Biometrics Appointment

Attend a biometrics appointment, if applicable, at the designated location providing biometrics services.

STEP 5: Complete the Interview

You will receive an appointment notice for the naturalization interview. Ensure you are on time for the interview and carry the notice. If you cannot make it, contact the closest USCIS office beforehand.

STEP 6: Application Decision

Await a decision from the immigration services, which may be an approval, continuation, or denial. Additional evidence may be requested for continued status.

STEP 7: Oath of Allegiance

If approved, expect a notice for your naturalization ceremony, where you will take your Oath of Allegiance. Ensure you have all the requirements for the ceremony before heading to the designated location. After the naturalization oath ceremony, you will receive a naturalization certificate. Ensure it indicates all the correct information and inform the USCIS of any errors.

Common Challenges and Solutions

Some of the challenges faced during naturalization application include:

  • Understanding eligibility criteria and other immigration policies

  • Hefty application fees (over $700)

  • Lengthy and stressful application process

  • Delays

  • Providing the correct documentation

  • Communicating with USCIS

The Law Office of Tatiane M. Silva, P.A. can help you navigate these obstacles during the naturalization process by providing legal advice and representation, reviewing your application and documents before submission, and preparing you for the interview and tests.

Preparing for the Naturalization Test

Overview of the Test

In the application process, you need to undergo English and Civics tests. The English test gauges your proficiency in reading, writing, and speaking. On the other hand, the civics test gauges your knowledge of the country’s government and history.

Study Tips and Resources

Preparing for the naturalization test requires studying and understanding what the USCIS may ask. Adequate preparation involves:

  • Understanding the test format and common questions.

  • Utilizing USCIS and other online resources, including educational videos, for practical lessons.

  • Engaging in English reading and speaking practice.

  • Taking practice tests, including using flashcards to remember the information you learn.

  • Seeking assistance from your attorney and other applicants for mock tests and interview practice.

  • Staying updated on current events to prepare for additional questions.

Good Moral Character and Naturalization

Importance of Good Moral Character

Understanding the role of good moral character (GMC) before the naturalization application helps you avoid mistakes that may tarnish your image. That includes maintaining acceptable moral character and conduct before the interview. Some things the USCIS may consider include the period of good moral character, criminal records, compliance with permanent residence and naturalization requirements, tax compliance, and potential terrorist affiliations.

Overcoming Past Issues

While the USCIS might overlook some past discrepancies, other issues may bar you from being a subject of good moral character. Some of these include certain felonies, especially those risking human life, like murder, genocide, terrorism, aggravated assaults, armed robberies, and more. These could adversely affect USCIS’ decision on your Form N-400 application, leading to rejection.

If you might be barred from the GMC category, consult a The Law Office of Tatiane M. Silva, P.A. attorney today for helpful advice. We also provide you with the legal representation you need to improve your record.

After Submitting Your Application: What to Expect

Timeline After Application

After application, here is the estimated time you should expect to wait after application:

  • 2-3 weeks for the application receipt notice
  • 3-5 weeks for the biometrics appointment notice
  • 5-8 weeks for the biometrics appointment
  • Up to 9 months for the naturalization interview notice
  • Up to 11 months for the interview
  • Within a month after the interview, expect the Oath of Allegiance notice

Dealing with Delays or Denials

Some common reasons for delays or denials include: 

  • Providing incorrect or falsified documents
  • Falsifying information during the interview
  • Failing the English or civics tests
  • Having a recent criminal record 
  • Failure to meet other financial obligations
  • Failure to apply to the Selective Service System
  • Failure to renew your Green Card on time
  • Inadequate responses during the interview

On the brighter side, you can apply for a petition on USCIS’ decision or reapply for naturalization. Legal support from The Law Office of Tatiane M. Silva, P.A. will aid your reapplication process or represent you during an appeal hearing.

Why Choose The Law Office of Tatiane M. Silva, P.A. for Your Naturalization Journey

Naturalization offers foreigners the opportunity to be US citizens and reap benefits, including voting, financial support, helping other family members to immigrate, running for office, and more. However, the process has challenges that demand more patience from an applicant.

However, The Law Office of TATIANE M. SILVA, P.A. Can make your application more straightforward, giving you a higher chance of acceptance. Not only do our lawyers know the hassles surrounding the process, but they also take every case seriously. Therefore, you can rest easy as we take your needs seriously.

Take the initiative and book an appointment with us today to begin your naturalization application process.

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