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Citizenship and Naturalization Lawyer in Tampa

Providing Valuable Legal Representation to Clients Going Through the Naturalization Process

Naturalization is the complex process in a green card holder’s immigration journey to become a United States citizen. After a foreign national meets the eligibility requirements outlined by the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), they can begin the naturalization process.

In order to become a naturalized citizen, a green card holder must meet certain requirements and go through many steps. The primary steps involved in the naturalization process for those seeking citizenship include completing the proper applications, sitting down for thorough interviews with the government, and passing basic English and civics exams.

How is ‘Naturalization’ Defined by Immigration Law?

Naturalization is the legal process by which lawful permanent residents become citizens of the United States. Those in possession of green cards must take several steps before they are granted citizenship by naturalization.

It is highly recommended that you work with skilled citizenship lawyers during the naturalization process. Contact our Tampa, Florida, law firm to schedule your free initial consultation today.

What Are Different Pathways to Becoming a U.S. Citizen?

While many green card holders must undergo the complex process of naturalization, specific circumstances may allow for other pathways to citizenship.

These include:

  • Family-based immigration.
  • Marriage to a U.S. citizen.
  • Qualifying U.S. Armed Forces service.
  • The conversion from U.S. national to citizen.
  • Widow or widower of a US citizen.
  • Violence Against Women Act self-petitions.

What Are the Eligibility Requirements for United States Citizenship?

The most common pathway to U.S. citizenship is seeking naturalization after having been a green card holder. Additionally, you must be at least 18 years old and have possessed your green card for a minimum of three years prior to filing your application for naturalization.

Other requirements include the following:

  • Be a person of good moral character.
  • Have a basic knowledge and understanding of United States history and government.
  • Have held a continuous residence in the United States as a green card holder for at least five years.
  • Have been physically present in the US for at least thirty months out of the five years.
  • Live within the state or USCIS jurisdiction for at least three months before filing.
  • Resided continuously within the US from the date of the naturalization application to the date of actual naturalization.
  • The ability to read, write, and speak basic English.

What is the Naturalization Process?

Obtaining citizenship via naturalization requires several steps. Immigration attorneys can assist you with these legal matters.

First, you must complete and file an Application for Naturalization with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) offices. Then, you must attend a USCIS interview, which will go over your background and information provided in your application. You must also attend a biometrics appointment and submit your fingerprints for a criminal background check.

You must take a United States civics test and an English test, which will evaluate your ability to speak, read, and write basic English.

Once you have received approval from the USCIS, you must take an oath of allegiance to the United States of America. In taking this oath, you state that you understand all of the implications and responsibilities of being a U.S. citizen.

What Obstacles and Delays Could Impact the Naturalization Application Process?

The naturalization process is complicated and overwhelming for many immigrants. Perhaps the most significant hurdle to overcome is the naturalization interview, where applicants must demonstrate a basic knowledge of their citizenship requirements.

The citizenship test poses another potential challenge. Other applicants may struggle to prove continuous residence or physical presence criteria. And many other applicants must contend with legal issues such as discrepancies in their applications or alarming information discovered in a criminal background check.

It is wise to consult with experienced citizenship attorneys when beginning the naturalization process.

What Might Disqualify a Citizenship Application?

Certain actions and circumstances may bar an individual from achieving naturalization.

These include:

  • Failure to register in the Selective Service system.
  • Inability to present verified tax returns from recent years.
  • Inability to prove that you are a person of good moral character.
  • The conviction of a murder or any other aggravated felony on or after November 29th, 1990.
  • You are already in the middle of deportation proceedings.

How Long Does It Take to Become a U.S. Citizen?

There is a wait time of several months for simply processing the Application for Naturalization. All told, it may take 18 to 24 months for a green card holder to obtain US citizenship.

Do not delay the pursuit of your American dream. Contact our law firm in a timely manner to begin discussing your case today.

Are There Risks Associated with Applying for Naturalization?

As you are subject to evaluation by the USCIS, there is a potential that certain people may face during the application process.

Every application is reviewed thoroughly, and this will include looking into your history as an immigrant. If anything problematic arises, such as fraudulent activity, long trips outside the US, substance abuse, or a criminal record, the USCIS may go beyond simply denying your naturalization petition; they may actually place the applicant in removal proceedings.

What is the Naturalization Test?

The US naturalization test consists of two main parts: the civics test and the English test.

The civics test evaluates your understanding of the U.S. government and your knowledge of U.S. history. You will be asked questions related to the US Constitution, citizens’ rights and responsibilities, and the various branches of government. Your USCIS interviewer will likely ask you ten questions, and to pass, you must correctly answer at least six of them.

The English test assesses the applicant’s ability to speak, read, and write basic English. The USCIS interviewer will ask you to read aloud one of three sentences and then write one of the three sentences in order to demonstrate your abilities. Green card holders who have been legal permanent residents for at least 15 years and are over age 55 may not need to pass an English test.

How Can an Immigration Attorney Help You Achieve Your Immigration Goals?

Applying for American citizenship is no easy task. Many green card holders apply for US citizenship only to have their applications denied before they are allowed to complete the entire naturalization process. The Department of Homeland Security will assess a naturalization candidate’s entire immigration record before granting them US citizenship. It is highly recommended that you seek out immigration lawyers with a proven track record of helping former clients achieve their naturalization goals.

Tampa citizenship lawyer Ernesto Buitrago and his highly skilled legal team have extensive experience helping green card holders become U.S. citizens through the naturalization process. If you are a lawful permanent resident seeking citizenship, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our Tampa immigration law firm to schedule your free case evaluation today.

Schedule Your Free Initial Consultation with an Experienced Immigration Lawyer Today

Our immigration law firm is conveniently located in beautiful Tampa, FL. To discuss your naturalization case in more detail, we encourage you to get in touch with our legal team to schedule a free consultation today.

You may reach us at 866-519-3545.  We look forward to speaking with you.