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American citizenship: How to begin the naturalization process

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If you already are a permanent resident of the United States and are thinking about the next big step in your immigration journey, in this article we will help you understand how to obtain American citizenship.

For many immigrants living in the United States as permanent residents, applying for American citizenship is a somewhat scary process, and most delay their application out of the impression that it’s just too complicated. But don’t fret, with the right advice and a bit of patience, if you already meet the requirements there’s really nothing to worry about.

In order to obtain American citizenship, you must first complete a series of important steps. First, you must confirm your eligibility, complete a specific USCIS application form (the N-400 form), pay a fee, attend an interview and take a final exam that will determine the immigration agency’s decision on your case.

While this might seem like a lot of work, if you already got where you are, you already have overcome tougher challenges. And, besides, naturalization comes with many benefits.

What are the benefits of having American citizenship over a Green Card?

There are significant advantages to obtaining American citizenship as an immigrant in the United States. Among these, some are:

  • Travelling out of the country with ease
  • Protection against deportation
  • Being able to help other family members immigrate to the USA or obtain citizenship
  • Fiscal benefits

What are the requirements to obtain American citizenship?

This is a list of requirements that you must meet to apply for the naturalization process:

  • Being at least 18 years old
  • Being a Green Card holder for a minimum period of 5 years
  • Living in the same US state for 3 months before applying
  • Having been physically present in the United States for at least 30 months out of the 5 years prior to filing
  • Passing the test for American citizenship
  • Being a person of good moral character

However, there are different types of provisions within the law that apply depending on what type of permanent resident you or your family members are. For example, residents married to a citizen and residents who are in the United States military may be able to have additional immigration benefits.

What if I want to apply for the naturalization process but my Green Card is expiring?

Don’t forget to renew your Green Card! As a lawful permanent resident, you must have valid and current proof of lawful permanent residence in your possession at all times.

Applying for naturalization does not change this requirement. For this reason, you should generally apply to renew your expiring permanent resident card, even if your application for American citizenship is already in process.

Do I need a lawyer to apply for American citizenship?

Even though you can technically apply for citizenship yourself by filing the necessary USCIS forms yourself, including the N-400 form, ‘Application for Naturalization’, it is highly recommended to work with a trustworthy and experienced immigration lawyer throughout the whole process.

Undertaking this step alone leaves you vulnerable to making costly mistakes that could be solved easily with the help of an immigration lawyer. The immigration environment it’s not an easy one to navigate, and obtaining citizenship sooner than later can be a huge advantage to your life in the US.

If you are in need of immigration legal advice, do not hesitate to contact us! At the Law Office of Shelle-Ann Simon we have wide experience in immigration proceedings, family law, and personal injury and have successfully defended our clients for over 10 years. Contact us through our website or give us a call at 281-606-0800!


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