US Citizenship

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How Do You Obtain US Citizenship?

There are a number of paths to citizenship. Before you can obtain citizenship, you will need to have had a green card for a certain period of time. Depending on how you obtained the green card, you must either have had a green card for three or five years.
For instance, if it was through marriage, you need only wait three years before applying for citizenship. If you received a green card through employment you must wait five years before applying for citizenship. To apply, you must submit an N-400 application along with supporting documentation to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. You will be scheduled for an interview with an immigration officer, and for an English and civics test which you must pass to naturalize.
All too often, lawful permanent residents do not take advantage of their eligibility to naturalize and become a United States Citizen. Obtaining citizenship can be arduous, but it is the only way to be afforded full rights in the United States. Without naturalizing, you are still subject to the possibility of removal and are ineligible to exercise civil rights such as voting and owning a firearm.

Experienced US Citizenship Law Firm

For many immigrants, their life goal includes obtaining U.S. citizenship. However, the U.S. immigration and citizenship process is complex. Many applicants may not even know who to talk to or where to start. A U.S. citizenship attorney can help you engage the process and navigate the legal waters to obtain citizenship.

At Henson Pachuta & Kammerman, we have several years of experience assisting immigrants with the citizenship process. Our law firm strives to make sure that all people, regardless of origin, can obtain citizenship and pursue the American dream.

What Are the Requirements to Obtain U.S. Citizenship?

Typically, in order to be eligible for U.S. citizenship, you must:

  • Be at least 18 years old when you submit your application
  • Have been a permanent resident for the last five consecutive years
  • Have been physically present in the U.S. for the past five year
  • Be able to read and write English
  • Understand basic tenets of U.S. history and civics
  • Demonstrate “good moral character”

All these requirements appear relatively straightforward, except for the last. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) defines good moral character as “character that measures up to the standards of average citizens of the community in which the applicant resides.”

In practice, this means that you cannot have a serious criminal record, and you must fulfill any legal obligations you have. Certain crimes may disqualify you from a judgment of good moral character, including but not limited to gambling, perjury, prostitution, drug offenses, or violent crime (e.g., assault, battery, murder, etc.).

Even if you have a past criminal record, you can still qualify for U.S. citizenship. For example, if the crimes occurred a long time ago or you show reform, you can still be eligible for citizenship with past marks on your record.

 

What Should I Expect During the Naturalization Process?

Naturalization refers to the process of non-native residents acquiring citizenship. From beginning to end, the naturalization process typically takes between twelve to eighteen months. First, you must meet all eligibility requirements for citizenship and submit Form N-400 and related documents to USCIS.

After submitting your application, you must provide biometric information such as your fingerprints. Afterward, USCIS will conduct an interview to determine your proficiency with the English language, your knowledge of U.S. civics/history, and whether you have shown good moral character.

After completing the interview, USCIS will make a judgment. If they accept your application, you can move on to the final steps of the naturalization process. If they deny your application, a U.S. citizenship attorney can help you appeal the decision.

 

What If I Am Married to a U.S. Citizen?

If you are a non-citizen married to a U.S. citizen, then you can apply for citizenship through your marriage after only three years. In order to be eligible for citizenship through marriage, you must demonstrate:

  • A physical presence in the United States for the past three years
  • A marital arrangement with the citizen in question for at least three years

All other eligibility requirements for citizenship apply to non-citizens married to U.S. citizens. The main difference is that you will be eligible for citizenship after just three years, not five. You will be ineligible for naturalization if your spouse dies before you take the Oath of Allegiance or you terminate your marriage before becoming naturalized.

 

What Does a U.S. Citizenship Attorney Do?

Essentially, a U.S. citizenship attorney will help you navigate the legal landscape to find a path to citizenship. Among other duties, a citizenship attorney can help you:

  • Determine citizenship eligibility
  • Gather necessary documents to apply
  • Complete and submit form N-400 Application for Naturalization
  • Prepare for your USCIS interview
  • Learn about your rights and privileges as a U.S. citizen
  • Represent your case in immigration court

The naturalization process is complex and involves many steps and legal appeals. An immigration and citizenship attorney can provide the necessary assistant and technical services to file all applications and meet court deadlines.

 

U.S. Citizenship Attorney in Fairfax, VA

Our team of Fairfax immigration lawyers at Pachuta Henson & Kammerman dedicates itself to providing award-winning criminal and immigration legal services. We have the knowledge and experience to explore all options and help you through the naturalization process.

If you require the services of a U.S. citizenship attorney, contact us at Henson Pachuta & Kammerman, PLLC, today at (703) 822-4701 to schedule a case consultation!

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N-400 Application

The N-400 is the USCIS application form that you file to start the process of obtaining US citizenship. You submit your N-400 application along with a filing fee for the application itself and for bio metrics. USCIS updates the filing fees from time to time, and it is important that you check to make sure you are sending the appropriate fee. While most N-400 applications are approved, many are denied. The most common reasons for denial are criminal convictions, failure of the civics or English test, failure to register with the selective service, and failure to meet the continuance presence requirement. It is important that you meet with an immigration lawyer and discuss your case to make sure you meet the eligibility requirements before filing your N-400.

Good Moral Character

In order to successfully obtain US citizenship, you must be found to be 'of good moral character.' Good moral character means that a person does not have serious criminal issues in his past and he generally meets legal obligations such as paying taxes. USCIS defines good moral character as “character which measures up to the standards of average citizens of the community in which the applicant resides.” Especially for green card holders with a criminal history, even for minor misdemeanor traffic related crimes, it important to produce evidence and be prepared to explain why you meet the good moral character requirements for naturalization.

Civics and English Test

While there is a multiple choice practice civics test distributed by USCIS, the actual civics test is not multiple choice. Rather, the immigration officer will ask you a total of 10 questions out of a total list of 100. You must correctly answer 6 of the 10 questions in order to pass the civics portion of the citizenship test. It is important to study the 100 questions carefully before your interview. The English test has three parts. You must be able to speak English as determined by the immigration officer during your eligibility interview. There is a reading portion requiring that you read one of three sentences correctly and a writing portion requiring that you write one of three sentences correctly.

Naturalization Ceremony

Once your application for naturalization has been approved, USCIS will schedule you for your naturalization ceremony. At this ceremony, you will take an oath of allegiance to the United States, completing the process of becoming a United States citizen. Once your application has been approved, USCIS will send you a N-445 form providing you with the date and time of your naturalization oath ceremony. At the ceremony, you will relinquish your green card and take the oath of allegiance. After the ceremony, you will receive your certificate of naturalization and can apply for a U.S. passport, register to vote, and update your social security record.
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The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; instead, all information, content, and materials available on this site are for general informational purposes only.
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