Naturalization is the way that a foreign citizen or a foreign national becomes a U.S. citizen. Let a Las Vegas immigration attorney advise and guide you through the naturalization process.
Naturalization has been a part of federal law since Congress approved the Naturalization Act of 1790. Today, hundreds of thousands of immigrants are seeking and hoping for naturalized citizenship.
Over 700,000 immigrants naturalized in fiscal year (FY) 2017. This brought the number of naturalized citizens in the U.S. to almost 22 million. From FY 2008 through FY 2017, the annual number of naturalizations has ranged from about 620,000 to slightly more than one million.
What’s The First Requirement For Becoming A Naturalized Citizen?
As the number of naturalization applications has substantially increased since FY 2015, so have the processing wait times. In 2020, it may seem like the first requirement for becoming a naturalized United States citizen is having some patience. You’ll need it.
By the end of FY 2017, most USCIS field offices were averaging wait times longer than eight months for a naturalization application to be processed, with some offices averaging as high as fifteen months. Naturalization can be a lengthy and convoluted process, but it is worth the effort.
Naturalization offers benefits and privileges available only to United States citizens. These include the right to vote in U.S. elections, traveling for a prolonged period of time, or living and working anywhere in the world without losing the ability to return and live in the U.S. without any additional immigration processes.
Naturalized citizens can also petition the government for permanent resident status for their spouses, parents, siblings, and children – without any extra wait – as the qualifying relatives of U.S. citizens don’t have any cap on the number of their relatives who may apply for permanent resident status.
What Are The Requirements For U.S. Citizenship?
To become a U.S. citizen, applicants must meet all of the requirements spelled out in the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 on the day they file their application. You may be eligible for naturalized U.S. citizenship if:
- You’ve been a lawful permanent resident for a minimum of five years, and you meet the other requirements to qualify for naturalized citizenship; or
- You’ve been a lawful permanent resident for a minimum of three years, you are married to a U.S. citizen, and you meet the other requirements to file for naturalized citizenship; or
- You qualify because of your service in the U.S. military, and you meet the other requirements to qualify for naturalized citizenship; and
- You are at least 18 years of age at the time you file Form N-400 (Application for U.S. Citizenship).
- You can demonstrate the required continuous residence and physical presence in the United States.
- You are able to read, write, and speak basic English.
- You have demonstrated good moral character (i.e. paying taxes, paying child support, registering timely for U.S. selected services, no criminal history, polygamy, Communist Party or other unfavorable memberships, etc.).
- You have a good basic understanding and knowledge of U.S. history and government. (You must answer correctly six out of ten questions asked during the test. and there is a total of one hundred questions).
- You demonstrate loyalty to the ideals of the U.S. Constitution, and you are willing to take the Oath of Allegiance.
Why Are Some Applicants For Naturalized Citizenship Rejected?
Applicants may be denied naturalized citizenship if they cannot prove that they have the required length of permanent residence, if they are found to lack allegiance to the United States, if they are deemed to have bad moral character, and/or if they fail the required English or Civics test.
Your child may qualify for naturalization if you are already a citizen, even if the child was born in or resides in another country. If your biological or adoptive parent became a U.S. citizen before you reached age 18, you may already be a U.S. citizen, and you may not need naturalization, but you should apply for a Certificate of Citizenship.
If you have family members who may be eligible for naturalized U.S. citizenship, the right naturalization attorney can advise and help you with the mountain of red tape and paperwork that becoming a U.S. citizen involves.
What Is The Naturalization Test?
If you are an immigrant, and if you are seeking to become a U.S. citizen, you must also take and pass the naturalization test. You will attend a naturalization interview where you are required to answer a number of questions about your background and about your application for citizenship.
Unless you are eligible for a waiver or exemption, you also must take and pass English and U.S. Civics tests. An exemption may be approved if you are age 50 or older and you’ve held a green card for twenty years or if you are over age 55 and you’ve held a green card for fifteen years.
If you are physically or developmentally disabled, you may also be exempted, but documentation of your disability must be submitted by your physician on the correct form with your application.
You have two chances to take the U.S. Civics and English tests. Should you fail either or both tests at the first naturalization interview, you can take either or both of the tests again within two weeks from the first interview.
USCIS – U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services – provides study materials for the naturalization test and other resources about naturalized citizenship for immigrants, schools, and other groups. USCIS makes these resources available through its website.
What Is Form N-400?
Applicants for citizenship must complete Form N-400 accurately and completely and attach all of the required documentation. There’s a $640 filing fee (the cost is subject to change) and an $85 biometric fee. (A biometric fee is not required for those 75 years old or older.) Have the right immigration lawyer help you.
Naturalization is not automatic except for the children (under the age of 18) of naturalized U.S. citizens. According to the Dallas Morning News, almost 78,000 naturalization applications were denied, on average, every year from 2009 through 2018, although the numbers varied from year to year. But those numbers make one thing clear.
You’ll need advice and guidance from the right Las Vegas immigration attorney – someone who can address your concerns, assist with the required paperwork and documentation, answer your legal questions, and help you become a U.S. citizen.
How Will A Good Immigration Lawyer Help You?
Your attorney will help you complete Form N-400 to ensure that no misunderstandings or mistakes delay the naturalization process. Your immigration attorney will also advocate on your behalf if any dispute or misunderstanding emerges.
In fact, consulting with an immigration attorney should be your very first step. Everyone’s situation is unique, so you need personalized immigration advice.
If you are seeking to become a U.S. citizen, or if you are dealing with any other immigration-related legal issue, you can’t take any risks and you can’t take anything for granted. Naturalization may seem easy, but immigration laws and regulations are extremely complicated.
If your goal is attaining U.S. citizenship for yourself or a loved one, having reliable legal guidance from an experienced immigration attorney is the best way to achieve that goal, and having that guidance is your legal right.