Naturalization Lawyers in Houston: Preparing You for Citizenship
You’ve been a Green Card holder in the United States for several years, and you think that you want to make this country your permanent home. How do you become a U.S. citizen? Immigrants are able to gain citizenship status through a process called naturalization. Learn more about what this means and what you’ll need to do below.
If you have questions about naturalization or want to know how to obtain citizenship, call the Law Office of Shelle-Ann Simon, PLLC. You can schedule an appointment with a citizenship attorney who can help you understand whether you meet the eligibility requirements to apply for naturalization and what to expect.
What Does the Naturalization Process Entail?
The naturalization process in the United States starts with being a lawful permanent resident who has maintained a residence and presence in the country for 3-5 years, depending on the type of application. Lawful permanent residents are also commonly known as having Green Cards.
As long as you meet the requirements for applying for naturalization, you can complete Form N-400 along with the required paperwork. After your application is processed, you will have an interview and complete the required tests before taking your Oath of Allegiance and being granted official citizenship status.
While this short summary can make it seem like applying for naturalization is simple, it can be a long process, and if you aren’t sure about what’s required or whether you are eligible, it can be confusing. Before you decide to pursue naturalization, it’s a good idea to schedule a meeting with an immigration attorney who can talk with you about your situation and goals and ensure naturalization is the right next step.
What Are the Requirements for Naturalization?
The naturalization process is very specific in the United States. To be eligible for naturalization, you have to be at least 18 years old and have been a lawful permanent resident for at least three years. You must have a functional grasp of English, including speaking, writing, and reading proficiencies, and you have to have had a “continuous residence and physical presence” in the country.
You may have heard about naturalization tests, but the only actual test is the U.S. civics test, covered in more detail below. Other requirements include being of good moral character, being loyal to the U.S. Constitution, and being willing to take the Oath of Allegiance.
What Is Involved in a Naturalization Interview?
The interview is an important part of the naturalization process. You will attend your interview at one of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services offices. An officer will ask questions about where you’re from and your background, your time in the United States, and anything else that might be relevant to your application. This is also when you will take the English test and complete the civics test. If all goes well with your United States citizenship interview, you will progress to the next step, which is generally submitting any additional requested paperwork and taking your oath.
Will I Have to Take a Civics Test?
Yes, to be a naturalized citizen, you have to take a U.S. civics test. This citizenship test includes questions on the U.S. government and the history of the country. It’s normal to be worried about taking — and possibly failing — the naturalization test, but there are study materials and practice tests available that can help you feel more confident. If you do happen to fail the test, you have the option to retake it after a 60-90 day waiting period.
Is It Possible to Lose Naturalization Status?
Once you have changed from a permanent resident with a Green Card to a naturalized citizen, you generally retain that citizenship for life. However, there are circumstances that could lead to you losing your naturalized citizen status. The first is that you voluntarily renounce your citizenship. This is rare, but someone might want to run for public office in their home country, which would require them to give up their U.S. citizenship, for example. In general, the only way to lose your citizenship involuntarily would be if you were to commit an act of treason against the United States of America.
How Long Does It Take Immigration Services to Process a Naturalization Application?
In general, it takes around 12-18 months to get through the process of acquiring naturalization citizenship. However, this depends on the case backlog and what field office you are processing your application through. In Houston, Texas, the average processing time was 17 months as of January 2023, according to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website. You can find current processing times for all immigration forms on this site.
Going from a permanent resident to a U.S. citizen is a big milestone in the immigration process. If you have questions about naturalization or any other immigration law issue, our attorneys can help. Call our Houston office at 281-606-0800 to speak with a member of our team and schedule your first appointment with a citizenship attorney.