Our Castan and Lecca team is passionate about immigration! It’s a topic that is close to our heart as a business, so in today’s post, we want to talk a little bit about the naturalization process and getting the help you need along the way.
Let’s start with the basics.
Naturalization is the name for the process of granting a United States citizenship to a citizen or national of another country. The preliminary requirements for starting the process are:
- You must be at least 18 years old.
- You must have a green card (aka, be a legal permanent resident).
- You must have been a legal permanent resident for five years or three years if you obtained residency through marriage. Note that special exceptions apply for applicants who are serving have served in the U.S. military.
- You have been physically present for at least 30 months during the last five years. Absences longer than six months but shorter than one year may disrupt physical presence unless the you can establish that they did not abandon their residency.
- You must be able to show proof that you have lived in the same state or USCIS district for at least 3 months prior to filing the application.
- You have to show Good Moral Character during the statutory period, five years generally, three years for applicants who obtained residency through marriage, and one year for members of the Armed Forces. Keep in mind that USCIS may and will inquire into your entire criminal history both within and outside of the statutory period. Consult an attorney if you have any felony convictions and are interested in becoming a U.S. citizen.
If you meet all these requirements, then the paperwork process can start! The application form for naturalization is called the N-400 and filling it out will be the first step. While the naturalization process doesn’t require you to be represented by an attorney (and there are a few cases in which an attorney may not actually be necessary), the reality is that this process can be very long and complex and even small errors or unclear details can create major delays and complications. How you report name changes, marital status, recent international travel, disabilities, tax history, encounters with law enforcement, and community participation can all seriously affect how your application is handled. If you are not fully fluent in English, small differences in wording can create questions. The good news is experienced immigration attorneys know exactly what USCIS is looking for in the paperwork and how to present the information to them, and they can help you get the application filled out right the first time.
In addition to the USCIS Form N-400, other documents and different types of evidence may be needed. An attorney can help you be prepared with the appropriate paperwork for each stage of the process. This will reduce both the stress you experience and the time it takes for you to move through the naturalization process. Since everyone’s story is unique, the fact of the matter is that everyone’s situation has complications and particularities that need special attention. We at Castan and Lecca are committed to making this process as streamlined and secure as possible. We believe that immigration is one of the pillars of American society, and we are proud to partner with those who are seeking to become naturalized citizens! If you or someone you know is considering starting the naturalization process, give us a call to discuss your situation, and let’s see how we can help you.