Chicago Citizenship Lawyer
If you are a permanent resident interested in obtaining U.S. citizenship, you must go through an immigration process called “Naturalization.” As experienced Chicago Citizenship lawyer, we have successfully handled many Naturalization applications for permanent residents. Contact our Chicago Citizenship lawyer to schedule a consultation.
Naturalization as a Path to U.S. Citizenship
Naturalization is an immigration process that many permanent residents need to take in order to become a U.S. citizen. While the U.S. citizenship can be gained by birth, it can also be acquired through the naturalization application process or N-400 process. If you are a lawful permanent resident (LPR), the N-400 process is generally the last step that you have to take in order to become a naturalized American citizen.
Benefits of U.S. Citizenship
As the United States is a nation that is bound by a shared value of freedom, equity and liberty. The U.S. citizenship offers many rights and benefits which include but not limited to the following:
- free to travel outside of the U.S. for as long as you desire;
- free to practice your religion;
- free to express yourself;
- free to vote in elections for public officials.
Naturalization N-400 Requirements
The following are the general N-400 requirements that an applicant must meet to become a U.S. citizen:
- Age – Applicant must be at least 18 years old at the time of filing for naturalization. However, children under 18 years old may automatically obtain citizenship when one of their parents is naturalized. This is known as “derivative citizenship.”
- Lawful Admission as a Permanent Resident – Applicant must have been admitted as a lawful permanent resident (green card) for at least 5 years.
- Continuous Residence – Applicant must have continuously resided in the U.S. as a lawful permanent resident for at least 5 years immediately preceding the date of filing the application and up to the time of admission to citizenship.
- Physical Presence – Applicant must be physically present in the U.S. for at least 30 months out of the 5 years immediately preceding the date of filing the application.
- Good Moral Character – Applicant has the burden to establish good moral character (GMC) for a specific period of time. A failure to establish GMC can lead to either a permanent or temporary bars from acquiring U.S. citizenship.
- English Language Proficiency – Applicant must demonstrate an understanding of the English language.
- Knowledge of Civics and History – Applicant must have knowledge and an understanding of U.S. history and government.
Naturalization Process | Steps to Citizenship
The naturalization process is generally divided into four steps. First, if the applicant is eligible to naturalize, he or she must file an N-400 naturalization application with the USCIS. The N-400 can be filed by the applicant him/herself or with the help of an immigration attorney. When your naturalization application is received, the USCIS will schedule a biometrics appointment with the applicant. Following the biometrics appointment, a naturalization interview will then be scheduled.
- Permanent residence files an N-400 Naturalization Application.
- Schedule a Naturalization biometrics appointment.
- Attend your naturalization biometrics appointment.
- Attend your naturalization interview.
Naturalization Processing Time
Between 2019 and 2020, the USCIS experienced extreme backlogs with naturalization applications or the N-400 applications. Due to this backlogs, the average processing time is about 12 months, depending on a particular USCIS district office. Once an interview is scheduled, applicant must attend the interview, where he/she will be interviewed. During the interview, applicant must also pass the civic and English exams.
If the N-400 is approved, the applicant must go to the Naturalization Ceremony where he/she will return their Permanent Resident Card and take the Oath of Allegiance. After taking the Oath of Allegiance, the applicant will receive their Certificate of Naturalization. The Certificate of Naturalization is evidence of their U.S. citizenship.
Proving “Good Moral Character” for Naturalization
One of the key requirements for a naturalization application is to prove that the applicant is a person of “good moral character”(GMC). GMC means the character is as good as the average citizens of the community in which the applicant lives. While certain criminal records or offense will likely prevent applicants to establish GMC, the law does not clearly define the meaning of GMC.
If you have past criminal charges, convictions or offense that you believe would prevent you from gaining your citizenship, please contact our experienced Chicago citizenship and naturalization lawyers today. We can review any of your past police and court documents and determine if you can establish GMC for your naturalization application.
Below is a list of common offenses or acts that affect applicants from establishing GMC for their naturalization applications:
- made a false claim of U.S. citizen – such as for employment opportunity or benefits.
- registered to vote in the Federal, State, or local election.
- committed certain criminal offenses.
Crimes and U.S. Citizenship
If you are planning to become a U.S. citizen but have a criminal history you should discuss it with an experienced immigration lawyer. While not all crimes will prevent you from becoming a citizen, certain crimes will bar you either permanently or temporarily from citizenship.
Want to learn more about Citizenship? Contact Cipolla Law Group
Failure to establish “good moral character” can result in removal or deportation. If you have any questions about your eligibility, especially if you have a criminal history or issues or been outside of the United States for long periods of time, please contact the Cipolla Law Group. If retained for your naturalization case, our Chicago Immigration Lawyer will represent you before the USCIS from start to finish. Our Chicago based Naturalization lawyers will prepare the case, conduct a mock interview with you and attend the interview with you if it is scheduled at the USCIS Chicago Field Office.