How to Become a U.S. Citizen
United State Law essentially provides two means of becoming a citizen—through birth or through naturalization. If you are eligible for citizenship through birth, you do not usually need to take steps to become a citizen, but you may need to satisfy requirements to prove your citizenship.
To become citizens through the naturalization process, you need to demonstrate that you are ready. At Luis F. Hess PLLC, we help applicants prove that they are eligible and assist with preparing for examinations and other requirements. Knowing how to avoid mistakes makes the process less stressful and avoids unnecessary delays. We also assist applicants overcome denials and investigate and resolve unusual delays in the naturalization process.
Proving Your Eligibility for Citizenship
To start with, you must be at least 18-year-old to apply for naturalization, and you must have had a green card as a lawful permanent resident for at least five years in most cases, or three years if you are married to a citizen (possibly even less if you served in the U.S. military.)
In addition, you must be prepared to show that you:
- Understand U.S. government and history
- Can speak, read, and write basic English
- Are someone of good moral character
- Have been continually present as a resident of the U.S. for the require time
There are exceptions to some requirements in certain situations if you can present persuasive reasons showing why a requirement should be waived. Documentation is critical.
The Application Process for Naturalization
If you are not certain whether you qualify for naturalization or whether you may already have citizenship through your parents or place of birth, an immigration attorney could review your situation and help you determine your status. When you are ready to apply for naturalization, you start by filing Form N-400, the Application for Naturalization, along with the appropriate supporting documents. You may submit written forms to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) or apply online through the agency’s website.
After USCIS reviews and approves the application, the agency will usually need to schedule an appointment to collect biometric identifying information such as your fingerprints. The next step in the process will be the exam and interview. While this is the step that worries most applicants, in actuality it is just as important to take care when submitting the application and associated evidence. USCIS will review this information closely, and if you make a mistake, it could appear that you are trying to obtain citizenship through fraudulent means. A finding of fraud could make you ineligible for naturalization. Accuracy and honesty is important at all stages in the process.
An experienced immigration lawyer could assist in preparing for the exam as well as building your application portfolio. During the interview and exam, you will be asked about information on your application, and expected to show that you understand basic English and can answer questions about U.S history and the operations of government.
After USCIS evaluates the results, they will inform you of the outcome and schedule a time for taking the oath of allegiance.
A Dedicated Immigration Lawyer in The Woodlands Can Help You Succeed with Your Citizenship Application
Becoming a citizen opens the door to many opportunities. To avoid mistakes or delays with the application process, many applicants find it beneficial to work with an experienced immigration lawyer. To find out how we could help you apply or resolve a problem with a naturalization application, contact the office of Luis F. Hess PLLC today for a confidential consultation.