By: Shah Peerally Esq.

What Is Citizenship through Naturalization?

Naturalization is an immigration process, through which you can become a U.S. citizen. It is one of the most commonly used methods to acquire U.S. citizenship if you were not born a citizen.

The Benefits of Naturalization

A naturalized citizen has many benefits. You are awarded different kind of privileges as a naturalized citizen such as:

– You are eligible to register and vote

– You can hold a U.S. passport

– You can serve on a jury

When can you obtain Citizenship through Naturalization?

You can apply for citizenship through naturalization after 4 years and 9 months, i.e 57 months from the date you received your green card or 2 years and 9 months i.e 33 months if you received your green card through marriage to a US Citizen or VAWA. While applying for citizenship through naturalization, you must have been physically present in the US for at least 30 months or 18 months if you received your green card through marriage. Also it is necessary that you must not have broken your continuity of residence in the US during that time.

The basic requirements to becoming a Naturalized Citizen are-

– The ability to speak, read and write English;

– An understanding of the U.S. history and its governance;

– A good character;

– A continuous residence or your presence in the U.S. for a specific period; and

– A favorable disposition toward the U.S. and an attachment to the ideals of the U.S. Constitution.

Some important advantages of becoming a United States Citizen.

– As a US Citizen, you cannot be deported unless denaturalized (your citizenship taken away). Denaturalization is not common and is a lengthy process which is outside the scope of this article. Note that you cannot lose citizenship, even if you commit a crime or live anywhere else for a long period*

– As a US Citizen, one can petition for the green cards of close relatives. You are eligible to apply for government jobs, which are restricted only to US Citizens.

*However Naturalization is not irreversible (denatulrization). If it is discovered, even at a later date that you were actually not eligible for naturalization, at the time you acquired it i.e if you had done marriage or asylum fraud, then your citizenship can be revoked and you may be removed from the country itself. Also, if home country does not approve dual citizenship, you might lose citizenship in your home country. This in turn may have an affect on your property rights.

Some tips for Qualifying for naturalization?

– Good moral character can be subjective. The reviewing officer will take into consideration things such as declarations, community service, arrests, habitual drunkenness, convictions, etc. A standard good moral character is that of the average citizen in the community where you live.

– Although spending a year outside the US will break continuity of residence, yet you can apply for a reentry permit if you wish to spend 1-2 years outside. But you may have an opportunity to prove that continuity was not broken.

– Exemptions may be made for the English language test. If have been a green card holder for 20 years and if you are 50, you may be exempt. Also if you are 55, and have been a green card holder for 15 years, you might be excused. Disability exemptions also apply.

– Those who are at least 65, and have been a green card holder for 20 years, a simplified civics and history is administered. There are disability exemptions for the civics and history test.

Why Do I Need An Immigration Lawyer for a Naturalization Case?

Hiring an immigration attorney is probably your safest bet in getting through the naturalization process. The expert advice of the lawyers will help you answer any questions that you may have about your citizenship status. A lawyer, who is familiar with naturalization can you in the help preparation required for your interview. A good Immigration lawyer will also help you in assembling the required documents for your naturalization application.

Many people feel uncomfortable facing a USCIS officer alone, and sometimes need help in preparation for attending such an interview. In such a case your attorney can also accompany you. If yours is a complicated case, with a history of convictions, arrests or breaks in continuity, it is recommended that you hire a immigration lawyer, who will advice you on the best methods.

If you want to discuss the process of Naturalization with an experienced immigration lawyer from the Shah Peerally Law Group, feel free to contact us by email – or call us at 510-742-5887.

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