Naturalization for Permanent Resident
Naturalization is the 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. If you are a lawful permanent resident (LPR) planning on becoming a U.S. citizen, the naturalization process is generally the last step you have to take in order to become a naturalized American citizen.
The following are the general naturalization 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 United States for at least 30 months out of the 5 years immediately preceding the date of filing the application.
- Jurisdiction – Applicant must have lived within the state or USCIS district with jurisdiction over the applicant’s place of residence for at least 3 months prior to the date of filing the application.
- Good Moral Character – Applicant has the burden to establish good moral character (GMC) for 5 years prior to filing for naturalization, and during the period leading up to the administration of the Oath of Allegiance. A failure to establish GMC can lead to either a permanent or temporary bars from acquiring US citizenship. USCIS has discretion to look beyond this statutory period.
- Attachment to Constitutional Principles – Applicant must establish that they are attached to the principles of the U.S. Constitution and well-disposed to the good order and happiness of the US.
- English Language Proficiency – Applicant must demonstrate an understanding of the English language, including the ability to read, write and speak words in ordinary usage in the English language.
- Knowledge of Civics and History – Applicant must have knowledge and an understanding of U.S. history and government.
The naturalization process is generally divided into four steps. First, if the applicant is eligible for naturalization, he or she must file an N-400 naturalization application with the USCIS. When your naturalization application is received, the USCIS will schedule a biometrics appointment with the applicant. Following the naturalization biometrics appointment, a naturalization interview will then be scheduled.
For the past 2 years, the USCIS has been experiencing extreme backlogs with naturalization applications which is also known as the N-400 applications. The naturalization processing time is average around a year for them to be adjudicated, depending on a particular USCIS district office. Once an interview is scheduled, applicant must attend the interview, where he/she will be interviewed about their application and background. 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.
Naturalization with Crimes
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 acts or offense will likely prevent applicants to establish GMC, the law does not clearly define the meaning of GMC. The USCIS can also determine GMC on a case by case basis. 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.
Why hire us?
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 Cipolla Law Group. If retained for your naturalization case, our Chicago Immigration Lawyer will represent you before the USCIS from start to finish. Our immigration law firm 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.
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