April 4, 2021
Naturalization/Citizenship is a process in which Legal Permanent Residents voluntarily apply to become an American Citizen.
Who can apply for Citizenship?
There are many ways you can gain citizenship in the United States. Some of the ways are being born in the U.S, through the military, deriving citizenship from family members, or applying for citizenship after being a Legal Permanent Resident.
When and why should residents apply for Citizenship?
If you obtained your permanent resident status through your spouse, and have been living with them, you may apply for your citizenship 3 years after being granted your permanent resident status. If you obtained your permanent resident status a different way, then you may have to wait 5 years to apply. You can apply 90 days before the 3-year mark or 5-year mark depending on what case you are eligible for.
There are many benefits that come with becoming a U.S Citizen, including:
- The right to vote in local, state, and federal elections
- The right to leave the country for more than six months
- Entering the country will be easier and faster
- Ability to travel to countries that accept United States Passports
- The wait for petitions for family members are shorter for United States Citizens compared to Legal Permanent Residents
- Avoid the risk of being deported
Certain requirements are needed before you may be eligible to apply for Naturalization. A few of the requirements are listed below:
- Must file your taxes and have a payment plan if you owe taxes.
- Pay any spousal or child support owed and/or be up to date with payments
- If you are a male who lived in the U.S between the ages of 18-26, you must have registered for Selective Service. If you did not register for Selective Service and were in the U.S between the ages of 18-26, failing to register may be ok if you did not know and are now 32 years.
- Lived in the United States at least 6 months of the year for the past five years before filing
The filing fee for the application form N-400 is $725 (this includes the $640 application fee + the $85 fee for biometrics)
It is also possible to get a reduced filing fee if you are low income, however that can be difficult to obtain and you must show evidence of financial difficulty.
Civics, Reading, and Writing Test
The citizenship test consists of three parts; civics, reading, and writing. This is done in English, unless you qualify to do it in your native language.
You may be able to take the test in your native language if you are older than 50 and have had your legal permanent status for at least 20 years or if you are older than 55 years and have had your permanent resident status for at least 15 years. You must bring a bilingual translator to your interview.
You may also be eligible to not take the test if you obtain a medical waiver signed by a doctor on Form N-648. There must be a medical reason as to why you cannot take the test and/or learn English. We typically see this for brain and learning disorders, or in aged clients suffering from dementia.
Crimes and Criminal Convictions
Having certain criminal convictions can affect your eligibility for naturalization and/or put you at risk for deportation or removal proceedings. Answering yes to certain questions on the application, could result being placed in deportation or removal proceedings and/or having your application denied.
Over the decades, we have helped hundreds of legal permanent residents obtain citizenship.
We strongly advise seeking advice from an experienced immigration attorney before filing an application.
Contact Bailey Immigration for free phone consultations, and for help with filing your Naturalization Application at (866) 521-6422.