Citizenship & Naturalization

Citizenship & Naturalization

 

Becoming a US citizen is like crossing the finish line of a marathon:  It's exhilirating, exhausting and can take a long time.  At our firm, we're committed to making your last mile as smooth and trouble-free as possible.

Citizenship

Determining who is a US citizen and who is not can be surprisingly complicated.  Unlike many countries, the United States grants citizenship to those born on US soil (a legal concept known as jus soli) as well as to certain persons born abroad to US parents (jus sanguinis).  As you can see, US citizenship law is something of a hybrid.

Many people who are born outside the United States are US citizens because their parents at some point obtained US citizenship themselves.  Determining citizenship in these circumstances depends on a number of factors, including:

  • the person’s date and place of birth;
  • what his or her parents’ (and maybe grandparents’) citizenship was;
  • whether the parents were married;
  • how old the person was when the parent(s) obtained US citizenship; and
  • when and for how long the person or his parents lived in the United States.

DID YOU KNOW?  Some people are US citizens and they don’t even know it!  Under certain circumstances, people whose parents were US citizens automatically became US citizens at birth or before they turned 18.  If you think you might be a US citizen, consult a knowledgeable immigration attorney to find out for sure.

Naturalization

Naturalization is the process by which a lawful permanent resident (or “Green Card” holder) becomes a US citizen.  In most cases, to qualify for naturalization a person must have been a permanent resident for either three or five years, and half of this time must have been spent in the United States.  They must also show good moral character and demonstrate a working knowledge of English and US civics, and meet other requirements.

DID YOU KNOW?  Certain seniors and persons with disabilities are exempted from the English language and US civics requirements for naturalization.  If you think someone you know might qualify for this exemption, consult a knowledgeable immigration attorney to find out for sure.

Naturalization is the last, and most rewarding, step in the immigration process.  It bestows on an immigrant the right to vote, live and work permanently in the United States and travel on a US passport.

DID YOU KNOW?  Anyone who is not a US citizen – including Green Card holders – may be deported from the United States if they violate certain laws.  On the other hand, US citizenship is the best defense to deportation.  If you can prove you are a US citizen, the government cannot deport you. If you are facing deportation, don't wait until you are deported to seek help.  Consult a knowledgeable immigration attorney now.

Naturally, before granting such a valuable right as citizenship, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will closely scrutinize an immigrant’s record, from the very first entry into the United States to the day of the naturalization ceremony.  Major problems, such as criminal records and immigration violations, can result in the denial of a naturalization application.

But other, less obvious problems can also disrupt the naturalization process, such as:  failing to pay taxes or child support; failing to disclose a minor criminal record to DHS, even if it was dismissed or expunged; or contradicting information in your file concerning marriages, divorces, children, residences, trips abroad, name changes, and other matters.  All of these issues can, in some circumstances, lead to denial of a naturalization application and even deportation.

DID YOU KNOW?  Many individuals whose naturalization applications are denied may appeal the denial to another immigration officer and, in some circumstances, to the US District Court.  There are strict time limits to filing naturalization appeals, so if your naturalization application has been denied, consult a knowledgeable immigration attorney right away to discuss your options.

 

For more information about preventing deportation or the appeals process, visit these pages: