Citizenship is a big step and can easily be fraught with complications. Pledging your allegiance to a new country isn’t something to be taken lightly. With several complex steps and forms to fill out, mistakes are a common but problematic issue in the naturalization process. Having a professional citizenship lawyer can help you iron out the legal bumps in the road to get you from your green card to citizenship as easily as possible.
If you have been a legal permanent resident (green card holder) of the United States and now thinking about obtaining U.S. citizenship, a South Florida citizenship lawyer can help you determine if you qualify and guide you through the naturalization process.
What Does U.S. Citizenship Mean?
Being a U.S. citizen is more than just a certificate, it is a perspective that is focused on equality and freedom. Progressing from green card ownership to citizenship provides much and also requires much, so make sure you consider what will be asked of you before applying.
Citizenship comes with a variety of benefits and rights such as the freedom of speech and religion as well as the right to vote, run for election, federal employment, protection from deportation, priority benefits when sponsoring family members for green cards, and a domestic trial by jury.
Conversely, to whom much is given, much is required. Becoming a citizen also comes with a set of obligations that every American citizen needs to fulfill such as participation in the democratic process of voting, answering jury summons, paying taxes, and abiding by federal and state laws.If these are principles that you are willing to uphold,
If these are principles that you are willing to uphold, then use the following information to determine if you are prequalified to apply for naturalization.
What Are the Requirements for Naturalization?
VisaNation Law Group’s citizenship lawyers have assisted several green card holders with naturalization, including many complex cases involving prior convictions. Generally, you can submit an application to become a US citizen if you are at least 18 years old and you:
- have been a permanent resident of the United States for five years; or
- are married to a U.S. citizen for at least three years; or
- are currently serving in the US military.
If you are a U.S. citizen who has a child that was born outside of the U.S. and currently lives in a foreign country, your child may also be qualified for naturalization.
Additionally, you must satisfy the following requirements:
- Satisfy physical presence requirements.
- Evidence of good moral character;
- Demonstrate knowledge and attachment to the U.S. Constitution; and
- Ability to read and write basic English; and
- Demonstrate knowledge of U.S. history and government
The USCIS provides an in-depth naturalization eligibility worksheet to help you conclude if you are qualified for citizenship both mentally and legally. If you have a question about any of the items on the worksheet, an experienced citizenship lawyer can help guide you through the process.
How the Application Process Works
Although the application process is complex, here’s a brief outline of how it works:
- First, complete the citizenship application or N-400 form and send it to USCIS along with a copy of your green card, the required photos and a check for the processing fees. (Contact a citizenship attorney for help filing.)
- Next, you’ll be required to attend the in-person interview. Depending on the backlog this could take several months to schedule. This interview will test your basic understanding of U.S. history and proficiency of English as well as your background and dedication to the United States.
- From there you will have to set an appointment for biometrics at a local USCIS office. You will also take a U.S. Oath of Allegiance to demonstrate your commitment to being an American citizen.
Your biometrics are an important part of the naturalization process and not following the instructions concerning your appointment carefully can result in a delay in your citizenship.
It begins with including two passport-sized profile photographs and completed fingerprint cards with your N-400 form at the time of filing. At the time of the appointment, you need to bring the appointment notice as well as a valid form of photo ID. The USCIS has resources to help you prepare for your biometrics appointment.
Many clients distress about the English and Civics questions within the citizenship test. The purpose of the test is to evaluate the applicant’s understanding of United States history, politics, and influential government documents such as the Constitution. The USCIS provides a “Guide to Naturalization” which allows applicants to have an idea of what the test will be like. Applicants are then obligated to take an oath of allegiance. If you have a mental or physical disability, you will not be required to complete the oath. This exemption also applies to applicants who are underage.
There are several issues that can complicate the naturalization process such as prior criminal issues, tax fraud, expired visas, deportation defense claims, expatriate declarations etc. It’s strongly recommended that you seek guidance from an experienced citizenship lawyer if any of these factors applies to your citizenship application. To learn more about how we can help you become a naturalized U.S. Citizen, contact our experienced attorneys for an immigration consultation.
Green Card vs Citizenship
One question that is often asked is whether it is worth the effort to go from lawful permanent resident status to full citizenship. Since a green card allows you to work for almost any U.S. employer and live permanently in the country, many people are content with ending their immigration journey at permanent residence. However, there are some things to consider when deciding whether or not to take that final step to citizenship.
For starters, a green card may grant you permanent residence in the U.S., but your country will still be your home country. This means that you can be sent back to your home country if you were to break the law or violate your status. On the other hand, citizens are always tried on U.S. soil, which does away with the fear of being deported.
Additionally, getting your citizenship is extremely beneficial to getting green cards for family members. U.S. citizens have access to higher preference levels, which dramatically shortens the waiting time for your family. Also, immediate family members enjoy priority dates that are automatically current, meaning that there is no waiting time for the spouses and children under 21 of U.S. citizens. In contrast, the spouses and dependents of green card holders need to apply for the F2 green card, which can have a significant waiting period.
Speaking of families, as a U.S. citizen, your children who are born in the U.S. will immediately inherit your citizenship. As soon as you are naturalized into a citizen, all dependents living under your care who are under the age of 18 will also become U.S. citizens. Green card holders do not enjoy this transitive status benefit.
Another factor to consider is cost. At first, it may seem like the green card option is cheaper since it costs $540 to renew your green card and it costs $725 to go through the naturalization process. However, you must renew your green card every 10 years. If you truly plan on making the U.S. your permanent home, then you will likely end up making multiple payments of $540 over your lifetime. If you fail to renew your status, you could face deportation. Paying the one-time fee of $725 and avoiding the potential for deportation definitely saves you money in the long run.
On top of these benefits, you can also vote in U.S. general elections as well as hold positions in the federal government that are reserved for citizens. If any one of these benefits is something that you would like to take advantage of, pursuing citizenship is a highly-recommended next and final step in your immigration journey.
Why You Need a Citizenship Lawyer
Because naturalization is such an important process, one mistake or oversight could result in major citizenship delays or even denials. To avoid potential hiccups, it is always recommended to seek the counsel of a qualified citizenship lawyer.
VisaNation Law Group’s attorney will provide you with compassionate and professional service. They dedicate time to each and every client in order to understand their specific needs in order to obtain citizenship.
Your citizenship lawyer will have an in-depth knowledge of the specific procedures and documentation required to complete a successful petition, making this service invaluable to anyone looking for a smooth and timely citizenship process.
The VisaNation team works to avoid any potential delays in order to give clients the best opportunity in obtaining U.S. citizenship. Our success rate gives our clients the confidence they need to navigate this process. To arrange a meeting with a VisaNation Law Group attorney or to discuss our citizenship lawyer fees, it’s best to call our office and schedule a consultation so that we can learn more about you and your unique case.
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