If you plan on becoming a U.S. citizen through naturalization, it can feel overwhelming and complicated. You may think that you must speak flawless English to pass the required written tests, but that’s not true. In reality, proficiency in English doesn’t have to be perfect.
See how an attorney from a citizenship law firm can help you debunk this myth. Explore the eligibility requirements for U.S. citizenship and its application process.
Visit A Citizenship Law Firm Before Filing
The naturalization process allows lawful permanent residents of the United States to become citizens. It offers a path to all citizenship rights, privileges, and protections. Gaining citizenship can open more travel, work, education, and civic participation opportunities.
The N-400 application is the official document you must complete to formally request your naturalization. With the assistance of an experienced attorney, you can feel confident navigating this important process.
A law firm can guide you in thoroughly and accurately filling out each section of the lengthy Application for Naturalization form. This requires providing detailed personal information such as full name, address, and employment history covering the last five years. It also asks for your travel history outside of the U.S. in the past 5 years and criminal history, if applicable.
The firm can help you gather and organize all required supporting documents to submit with the application. It includes a copy of your Green Card, photos, and proof of U.S. residence. If you changed your legal name, the law firm can advise on proceeding with the correct supporting documents.
A skilled naturalization lawyer ensures all necessary documentation is properly prepared and submitted to maximize the chances of approval. They can assess your eligibility for citizenship. How can you tell if you’re eligible?
Check Your Eligibility
The requirements for naturalization will determine if you can become a U.S. citizen. Here are the general prerequisites to be eligible.
- Be at least 18 years old.
- A lawful permanent resident (Green Card holder) for at least five years (or three years for spouses of U.S. citizens).
- Meet the continuous residence and physical presence requirements.
- Demonstrate good moral character.
- Able to speak, read, and write basic English.
- Pass a civics test on U.S. Government and history.
Of course, you must first meet these requirements before even filing your citizenship application. It will also help if you know people’s common misconceptions about the process.
Do Research To Debunk Common Myths
Starting the process of becoming a citizen of the United States can raise many questions and worries. You may have heard confusing stories from relatives and friends. A good immigration attorney can help you determine the truth and clear any misunderstandings. Here are a few examples of common misconceptions.
You Must Never Leave The Country
As mentioned earlier, you must have lived in the United States as a permanent resident for five years before filing for citizenship. You can apply after three years if you obtain your Green Card through your U.S. citizen spouse and remain married at the time of application. However, it does not mean you must never leave the country during the residency requirement.
The law allows for some absences from the U.S. without affecting continuous residency. Specifically, no absence can be longer than six months, and total absences cannot exceed one year.
Keep records of your arrivals and departures, along with various types of documentation such as rent receipts, utility bills, and work records. This can help demonstrate your continuous residency. Any periods spent outside the United States, even for brief trips, must be accounted for. You cannot meet this eligibility criteria if total absences add up to more than the allowed one year.
You Do Not Have To Prove Your Residency
Another myth is that you do not need to prove your residency in a specific state. However, to be eligible for a U.S. citizenship, you must establish residency in the state where you plan to file your application, like Texas. This requires residing in the state for at least three months before filing. A permanent home within the state is also required even after becoming a citizen.
Gather documents like a license, registration, property records, or utility bills with your name and Texas address to prove your residency. Establishing residency within the state makes the local USCIS field office in Texas responsible for processing your petition.
You Need To Speak Fluent English
Contrary to popular belief, speaking flawless English is not a strict requirement for naturalization. While a basic language understanding is necessary, the USCIS recognizes that not all applicants will be fluent. They understand that not everyone applying speaks it as their mother tongue.
The USCIS offers considerations for individuals who have difficulty with the English language. This includes exemptions and waivers for certain age groups and those with physical or developmental disabilities.
Incidentally, the written tests evaluate your knowledge of the language, U.S. history, and Government. It includes an English and civics test. This checks if applicants understand simple English and have a basic knowledge of the U.S. Government and history.
These can seem challenging, but these tests are meant to check if you have a basic understanding of the language. Perfect mastery is not necessary. Minor grammatical errors or an accent will not necessarily cause someone to fail if they can still effectively communicate.
The tests are also designed to be accessible for non-native speakers of lower intermediate English. If needed, applicants can take the test in their native language.
However, feeling fully prepared for the citizenship process and exam without guidance can still be difficult. That is why seeking help from an experienced citizenship lawyer is still the best option.
Now that common myths have been dispelled, it’s time to learn about gaining U.S. citizenship through naturalization. Consulting with a citizenship firm can help you navigate each step smoothly.
The Naturalization Process
The process begins with the submission of Form N-400 to the USCIS. This form collects personal information, background details, and evidence of eligibility. Once the application is received, the USCIS will review it for completeness and accuracy.
After the initial review, you will be scheduled for biometrics and an interview. During this phase, an immigration officer will assess the applicant’s eligibility. They will conduct the civics and English language tests and review the application and supporting documents.
If the officer determines that the applicant meets all the requirements, they will be scheduled for the oath ceremony. You will take the Oath of Allegiance to the United States. Upon taking the oath, you officially become a U.S. citizen and can enjoy the benefits of the status.
The Benefits Of U.S. Citizenship
Are you a long-time resident of the United States? Are you thinking about becoming a citizen through naturalization? Getting U.S. citizenship has many benefits, such as rights, protections, and opportunities to improve your future. Here are a few benefits that you can enjoy.
- Voting. As a citizen, you have the right to vote in federal elections and have a say in how the country is governed.
- U.S. Passport. You can travel freely around the world carrying a U.S. passport. You are also not limited by the brief travel imposed on Lawful Permanent Residents.
- Protection from Deportation. A citizenship provides security, as you can no longer be removed from the country against your will. They have earned the right to call the U.S. their home permanently.
- Government Benefits. Social Security, Medicare, and education assistance are all available to support citizens and improve their quality of life. These programs help citizens succeed and receive financial aid when needed.
- Family Immigration. U.S. citizens can petition to bring family members and other relatives to America through the immigration process.
Consulting with experienced citizenship lawyers allows you to explore if the benefits outweigh the costs and if this step aligns with your goals. They can also help you determine how to navigate the process successfully.
How A Skilled Immigration Lawyer Can Help
Immigration lawyers play a crucial role in helping you through the process and overcome language barriers. During the naturalization process, they can provide language assistance services, such as interpreters or translators. These services ensure that you fully understand the questions asked during the interview and can provide accurate responses.
Also, they can help you prepare for the interview by conducting mock interviews in your preferred language. This practice enhances your confidence and familiarity with the interview process, regardless of your English proficiency level. If you reside in San Antonio, Texas, consider seeking legal support from Lozano Law Firm.
Naturalization is the pathway for lawful permanent residents of the United States to become citizens. Some people think you must be perfect at English to pass the citizenship tests. However, you only need to have a basic understanding of English. The USCIS recognizes the diverse backgrounds and abilities of applicants.
Getting assistance from a citizenship lawyer can significantly simplify the process. They can help you understand the complicated steps and increase your chances of becoming a citizen. Being a U.S. citizen has benefits like voting rights, protection from deportation, Government benefits, and sponsoring family for immigration.