Naturalization is the process in which someone goes through to become a U.S. citizen. If you are an immigrant with a green card or one with military service, then you may be eligible for the process.
Typically, permanent residents need between three and five years of residency to become eligible. But the amount of time you have possessed a green card isn’t the only important factor. The government also considers how much time you’ve spent living in the U.S.
You must also meet some other requirements. For one, you need to be 18 years of age or older. If you left the U.S. for six months at a time or longer, you may be ineligible. You can only apply for citizenship in a state in which you have been a resident for a minimum of three months.
Additionally, you need to show that you have “good moral character.” This means that you have to have similar character to others in your neighborhood and a relatively clean record. Many crimes, like murder and illegal gambling, can prohibit you from becoming a citizen.
You could wait to apply for citizenship until you meet the time requirements. However, you also have the option to file early. If you are a green card holder, you can submit your application 90 days before you reach the full three or five years.
With early filing, you cannot receive citizenship before the time is up. But you can get a headstart on the process. It makes the lengthy procedure a little shorter.
If you meet all the citizenship requirements, you can begin the process. It all starts with your naturalization application. You need to obtain a form N-400 and pay the filing fee. In some cases, an individual may be exempt from the filing fee.
You can fill out the application online or submit it through the mail. Before you file an online application, you need to create an online account. Applicants with fee waivers or reduction request cannot submit their applications online.
After you submit your application, you need to make a biometrics appointment. Your local USCIS office will take your fingerprints. Then, they will use those prints to run a background check.
Once your background check is complete, you can have your interview and exam. This usually occurs about 14 months after you file your citizenship request. However, the timeline depends on the wait times at your local office.
At your appointment, the interviewer will ask you about your application. They want to verify that all of the details are correct and that there is no fraud. The interview can occur in the U.S. or from a U.S. embassy or consulate in another country. If the applicant is an active duty military member, they could have their interview at a military installation.
You also need to take the naturalization test. There are two parts to the test. First, there’s a language test that examines how well you read, write, and speak English. Secondly, there’s a civics test. This part of the process questions your knowledge of U.S. government and the country’s history. The government provides you with a study guide for the exam.
In most cases, you cannot receive citizenship if you don’t pass the tests. However, there are some exceptions. Your age or disability could change your testing requirements. For instance, individuals over a certain age answer fewer questions and have more room for error.
If you fail your test the first time around, you do get a second chance. You can retake the portions that you fail sometime after your first testing. But if you pass the interview and the test at the time of your appointment, your officer might approve your citizenship request immediately. In other cases, the officer might request more documentation or another interview.
A denial letter doesn’t need to be the end of your journey to citizenship. If you receive a letter denying your application, you can request an appeal. You must make the appeal within 30 days of receiving your letter. If you don’t want to appeal, you can choose to re-apply.
If your officer approves your application, you might be tempted to celebrate. But don’t start the festivities until after your Oath of Allegiance ceremony. You do not attain citizenship status unless you attend the ceremony.
In the time following your interview, you will receive a letter that gives you the details of the ceremony. Typically, it takes place at a courthouse or USCIS office. There’s no way to say for certain when your ceremony will take place; every location has a different wait time.
During the ceremony, you will give back your green card. By the end of the proceedings, you will be a U.S. citizen.
Becoming a U.S. citizen could change your life forever. But the process takes time and effort. There are many missteps you can make along the way.
By working with an immigration attorney, you can avoid making mistakes. You can also learn how to better prepare yourself for the process. If you encounter any challenges along the way, your lawyer can help you overcome them.
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Caring and compassionate, Saman Movassaghi Gonzalez is a Florida immigration attorney dedicated to producing the results her clients need. She has over 17 years of experience helping both corporate and individual clients with an emphasis in employment/investment cases and family adjustment cases.
As the Managing Attorney at Florida Immigration Law Counsel, Saman Movassaghi Gonzalez and her team are capable of representing and helping individuals looking to attain a Family Visa, Work Visa, and Citizenship/Naturalization. Her experience successfully representing clients in front of the Department of Justice for cases involving Deportation/Removal Proceedings will lead to success in your case.
Her experience and expertise in immigration litigation has led to multiple Avvo awards and other accolades, including the Clients’ Choice for 2017 Immigration Attorney. Her clients also consistently post positive reviews on her Facebook page. Her experience has also allowed her to teach a new generation of lawyers as an adjunct professor of law at Nova Southeastern University, and she also regularly gives speeches on immigration matters.
Counselor Gonzalez is also experienced in helping corporate clients through the process of filing for Employment Visas, Labor Certifications, and Business and Investment Visas with the Department of Labor. She takes on the entire case from start to finish, simplifying the process for her clients and allowing them to focus on their business.
Fluent in English, Spanish, and Farsi – Saman Movassaghi Gonzalez is dedicated to making her clients feel comfortable and assured in making her their go-to immigration attorney in Florida. Her goal is to ensure that those who want to live the American dream have a professional fighting for them and making the process as painless as possible.
Saman’s passion for immigration law stems from her personal life as the daughter of immigrants. Her parents were recipients of the student F1 visa in 1971. Her father came into this country with the goal to improve his life and the life of his children. He earned a PhD in Civil Engineering and Business, instilling in his daughter a strong work ethic that she carries to this day. Saman saw firsthand what it means to be an immigrant and achieve the American Dream.
Saman Movassaghi Gonzalez can personally understand the struggle of immigrants and the children of immigrants navigating through the bureaucratic process of immigration law. Because of this, she dedicates herself fully and provides her personal attention to every case. She prides herself on developing a strong relationship with each and every client, and she is not afraid of pushing the envelope and looking for answers where other attorneys have failed.
Saman Movassaghi makes it her goal to provide you with only the best representation for immigration matters because she believes it’s time for you to live the American dream!