• U.S. Citizenship

    Quick outline: 

    A permanent resident (PR) may be eligible for citizenship if she has accrued the requisite residence period. There must be continuous residence within the US for 5 years following PR status. Generally, an absence between 6 months to one year raises a presumption by US Government that continuity of residence has been interrupted. This can be argued based on the so-called “ties” to the US – paying taxes, employment, mortgage, permanent home etc. Any absence over 1 year restarts the clock*.
    Let me quickly describe the process:
    • File the Application for Naturalization and any supporting documentation. The filing fee for a single applicant with US immigration right now is: $595 application fee and $85 for fingerprinting. (Persons over the age of 75 are exempt from the fingerprinting fee).
    • Receive an appointment letter for biometric services from USCIS.
    • Visit a USCIS fingerprinting location and have fingerprints taken.
    • Study to take the English and civics tests.
    • Receive an appointment for an interview with a USCIS Officer.
    • Go to the closest USCIS office at the specified time. Answer questions about your application and background. Take the English and civics tests.
    • Await a decision in the case.

    The process usually takes no longer than 1 year in total, unless US Gov finds issues within the applicants background and history.

    Applicant may be eligible to skip the English test if she is over 50 and lived in the US for 20 years or more as a PR, or if she is over 55 and lived in the US for 15 years or more as a PR (50/20 and 55/15 rules).
    A Medical Certification for Disability Exception may help waive the English test and the Civic requirement – it requires a doctor’s certification however.
    There are some other exceptions to residency in the process but most of them include being oversees in the US military or being on a work assignment abroad etc. If there are serious issues with the residency requirement, it may be prudent to reside in the US a while longer to get to the 5 year period, instead of filing, getting a rejection and thereby resetting the clock.
    *(resets to 4 years and 1 day, not 5 years – check).
    Step by step: (FROM USCIS – OCT 2011). 

    To apply for naturalization, you will need to file Form N-400, Application for Naturalization. Be sure that you meet all eligibility requirements before you apply. Certain exceptions and modifications are available to those who qualify. Below you will find a general description of the application process. Items such as a naturalization eligibility worksheet and document checklist are available to help you prepare.

    General Steps in the Process 

    • Determine if you are eligible to apply for citizenship.
    • Download Form N-400, Application for Naturalization.
    • Complete your application.
    • Have two passport-style photographs taken.
    • Collect the necessary documents.
    • Send your application package and filing fee to the appropriate Lockbox Facility or Service Center.
    • Receive an appointment letter for biometric services from USCIS.
    • Visit a USCIS fingerprinting location and have fingerprints taken.
    • Receive an appointment for an interview with a USCIS Officer.
    • Go to your local USCIS office at the specified time.
    • Bring state-issued identification, Permanent Resident Card, and any additional documents specific to your case.
    • Answer questions about your application and background.
    • Take the English and civics tests.
    • Await a decision on your case.

     

    Common issues in Naturalization cases include:

    Taking long trips outside the U.S. while a green card holder
    Not accumulating enough physical presence in the U.S. prior to filing for naturalization
    Failure to demonstrate intent in making U.S. permanent residence
    Failure to pay taxes
    Failure to pay child support

    The forms to file for naturalization are simple, however meeting requirements for naturalization and going through the analysis is not always as simple. Please contact us to discuss your situation and make sure you are a qualified applicant for U.S. citizenship BEFORE you apply.