For the average layperson, the laws applicable to US Citizenship are perhaps some of the most arcane and intricate of all immigration and nationality law. Part of the confusion stems from the fact that there are actually four ways an individual may become a United States Citizen: 1) by Birth in the US; 2) through Naturalization; 3) Acquisition through Birth to US Citizen Parents; and 4) Automatic Derivation Through Naturalization of Parent(s). While most people will generally apply to become naturalized citizens by filing the N-400 application, there are a number of people who may already be citizens by law without realizing it. This may be especially important for those who find themselves in jeopardy of being removed from the United States. If an individual either acquired citizenship at birth or derived citizenship through his/her parents, that person is not subject to removal or deportability.
The process of naturalization is more than just completing a form. With a few exceptions, most applicants will be required to appear for an examination at the local district office where they will be tested on both their ability to speak, write, and understand English, as well as knowledge of American history and civics. Additionally, the adjudicating officer will also be reviewing the applicant's good moral character and physical presence during the last five years (or three, if applying under three years marriage to a US citizen). Commission of crimes as well as long trips outside the United States may not only disqualify a person for naturalization but in some cases, render the person vulnerable to deportation proceedings. Furthermore, there are physical residence, continuity of residence, as well as procedural timing issues that all need to be considered before filing an application.
Our office concentrates a considerable portion of our practice to representing people in these types of matters. We will meet with you, help you to determine your eligibility, and of course, professionally prepare all the necessary forms (N-400 or N-600) with USCIS. Additionally, an attorney from our office can accompany and represent you at your interview to ensure that things go smoothly, and that any legal issues that need to be addressed are properly dealt with.
Before coming in for an appointment, we suggest that you gather the following materials and information:
- Date of Permanent Residence
- Green Card, Passports, Travel Documents, and Re-entry permits
- List of all trips outside the United States (including trips to Canada and Mexico)
- Information relating to any criminal arrests, charges or convictions, even if expunged. Please try to secure Certified Dispositions and Judgement of Convictions.
With the above information, our office will be better able to ensure that you get the most of out of your visit.