The New York Naturalization Guide was created by Empire Immigration Law to help answer common questions you may have about the immigration process. Call our lawyers for a consultation.
Are you looking to become a naturalized citizen in the United States? If you need help handling this or any other immigration issue, we hope that you reach out to our Buffalo, NY naturalization lawyer as soon as possible so we can get you the assistance you need during this very exciting time. You don’t have to feel confused or lost when you have a lawyer by your side handling the hard parts of your case. Call today to find out more.
Getting Help From a Buffalo, NY Naturalization Lawyer
We get asked all the time whether or not someone actually needs the help of a lawyer to go through the process of applying for naturalization. While there is a lot of information on the Internet about how to do it yourself, it can be confusing and challenging to figure out whether or not you are indeed eligible.
You might have heard someone make naturalization sound very simple because it can be boiled down to two steps. You will file a form and then you will go to an interview… and, yes, that sounds like a simple two-part process but it is much, more complicated than it seems. It all starts with figuring out whether or not you are even eligible to begin with. This doesn’t even factor in your nerves and any stress you may be feeling. We take the stress out of the process.
Eligibility for Naturalization
The basic requirements for eligibility for naturalization are as follows:
- You must have spent time in the United States as a permanent resident. That time period is usually five years or less in some cases.
- You should be able to prove that you have been of good moral character during the time you lived here as a permanent resident.
- You also have to have been in the United States for at least half of the time you spent as a permanent resident.
- Finally, you need to be able to pass a standard civics exam for the United States and prove you can read and write in English.
This might sound very uncomplicated but there are a lot of things that you need to be able to think about and prepare for in terms of problems that might crop up. Here are some examples of hidden issues that you might not know about:
- If you left the United States for a year or more during your period of residence, then the clock resets regarding the time you’ve spent here for your physical presence requirement. So essentially, you might be able to say that you stayed in the United States for the right amount of days but you left for a long enough period for it to not matter.
- Next, if you owe back taxes or you have put on your taxes that you are a non-resident, then this might prevent you from being able to show good moral character.
- Also, things like cheating on a spouse or not being able to support your dependence can make you ineligible for naturalization.
None of this makes you a criminal, so it’s probably easy to forget about these shortcomings and that the USCIS can deny naturalization for you based on these reasons.
You might think that you are eligible to file but sometimes there are reasons why you should not file for naturalization, including the following:
- You have a prior arrest or conviction either for a misdemeanor or a felony. Even if these are expunged, they can cause an issue for you.
- You didn’t pay your taxes or a court ordered alimony payment.
- You didn’t support your children.
- You were unfaithful in your marriage.
Having a criminal conviction can be a serious issue for you and, while you might meet some of the requirements to naturalize, this can potentially put you at risk of being deported if you have a conviction and try to file for naturalization. This isn’t a definite risk but it is something that you need to think about before you apply.
Even if you don’t have a conviction but you are worried about an arrest from your past hindering you from being able to file for naturalization, you need to talk to a Buffalo, NY naturalization lawyer before you do any sort of action to pursue naturalization. You might think that you don’t have a criminal record because you were not convicted or a charge got dismissed but sometimes those issues may still be present on your record.
Even if it’s a small misdemeanor, it can cause huge issues for you and consequences with your immigration and attempts to naturalize. You don’t want to lie on your paperwork, as this can cause some serious issues with you in the USCIS.
Also, something that you need to consider is that if you apply to become a naturalized citizen but you’re not eligible yet, you don’t get the filing fees back, which can be expensive. We want to spare you that.
What You Need to Do
If you go through the mental checklist and come up with the fact that you are indeed clean of a criminal background, have a good record of your travel documentation and immigration documentation, as well as any residents documentation, and you feel confident that you can fill out government forms properly, then you might be wondering if you can do this without the help of an attorney.
You might not, however, even know where to begin. You might think that because you are able to file all sorts of forms that are complicated that you can handle the process of naturalization applications, but please note that it gets harder to properly do this as time passes. The naturalization form has been known to double in length and is currently over 20 pages long. You might feel very overwhelmed and not know what to do. There are a lot of things and documentations that the USCIS asks you for and it can be really challenging to find all of these things and also make sure that the application is properly put together. That is why we encourage you to reach out to our Buffalo, NY naturalization lawyer. We can make this process smoother for you.
Are You a US Citizen Already?
You might be wondering why we would ask you if you are already a citizen, but it’s actually more common than you might think for us to hear from potential clients looking to naturalize only for them to find out that they are already a United States citizen.
For example, we have had someone come to us looking to become a naturalized citizen but they had already become a naturalized citizen when they were born without even realizing it because their parents were US citizens.
You might not also realize that if your parents naturalized while you were a child holding permanent residency, then that transfers citizenship for you.
The reason why people might not know this right away is because the government doesn’t do a great job at letting people know that they have acquired citizenship. We don’t want you to find out that you are already a citizen after spending a lot of time worrying about your application and losing the money that you spent on the fee for the application.
Support You Need from Our Buffalo, NY Naturalization Lawyer
If you definitely know that you would be eligible for naturalization, you already know how to file, and you don’t think that you have any issues that would prevent you from succeeding, then you might feel completely confident filing by yourself; however, with the help of a lawyer, this process can all be streamlined.
Even those who are confident that they can do this on their own sometimes run into issues that they could not have foreseen, such as issues with the application being completed properly then having to deal with a rejection because of that. Also, with the help of a lawyer you can fully prepare for your interview and have the lawyer come with you for it, which just on its own might make people feel relieved.
Something that we will not be able to help anybody do is get around the law and help you get naturalized without being eligible. If you are not eligible for naturalization, there are no strings that we can pull. Also, we don’t necessarily have the ability to make this a faster process for you but we do have the ability to prevent you from making it slower than it needs to be by avoiding issues.
Generally speaking, a lawyer is worth it if you are afraid of having this take longer than necessary because of mistakes you might unknowingly make. We can advise you through this entire process from beginning to end and be there to support you while you become a naturalized United States citizen.
Frequently Asked Naturalization Questions
Because My Green Card Allows Me to Travel Between the United States and My Home Country, Can I Live in Both Places until I Am Ready?
We receive a lot of phone calls from lawful permanent residents who are living between the United States and in their home countries, but they want to apply for naturalization here in the United States. They ask, “Can I live in both countries when I apply for naturalization?” The answer is no. We do not recommend applying for naturalization if you are living between both countries.
Here’s why. The reason why is because there are physical presence requirements here in the United States. You also must be residing in the United States when you apply for naturalization and have resided in the United States for a minimum of five years before you apply for naturalization.
In addition, if you spend a significant amount of time outside of the United States, you actually risk a finding of abandonment of your lawful permanent residence when you come back to the United States. This could place you in removal proceedings. That would be a big problem. If you have any questions about naturalization or any other immigration matters, please give us a call.
Do I Need a Lawyer to Apply for US Citizenship?
The other day, our office received a phone call from a potential client who was concerned about whether or not he needed to hire an attorney to apply for citizenship. Technically, the answer is no; however, that’s a really bad idea. The reason why is that immigration law is very complicated. Mistakes can be made. They’re very easy to make.
Mistakes will lead to delays and sometimes even denials. If your naturalization case is denied, this will cause you to lose your government filing fee and also could place you in removal proceedings. For that reason, doing it alone is a very bad idea. Yes, you should hire an attorney to apply for citizenship. If you have any questions, please give us a call.
How Can I Become a US Citizen?
We received a phone call a few days ago from a potential client. She had questions about whether or not she was eligible to naturalize to become a US citizen. She asked what the process was. First of all, you need to be over the age of 18. Second, you need to be a lawful permanent resident for a minimum of five years, or in the case of a lawful permanent resident who is married to a US citizen, you have to be a permanent resident for a minimum of three years.
There are also physical presence requirements and residency requirements inside the United States. In addition, you also have to be a person of good moral character. If you meet all these requirements, there are still additional requirements that you have to meet; however, these are the basic requirements. If you have any other questions about naturalization or any other immigration matters, please give us a call.
How Long Will It Take to Become a Naturalized US Citizen?
We receive phone calls all the time from potential clients who want to become naturalized US citizens. One of the main questions that our clients usually have is how much time it takes to become a naturalized US citizen. The processing time normally for a naturalization application is between six months to one year; however, mistakes can cause delays. If you want to process your case, if you want to become a US citizen quicker and you want to avoid these delays, so you want to avoid these mistakes.
In addition, mistakes can also turn into denials. Denials will, of course, cost you more money. In rare cases, they can also land you in removal proceedings. For this reason, it’s very important that you go with an experienced immigration attorney. If you’re ready to apply for naturalization or if you have any other questions about any other immigration matters, please give us a call.
What Can I Expect at the Naturalization Interview?
We received a phone call recently from a potential client who had questions about the entire naturalization process. The question that came up was, “What can I expect at the naturalization interview?” What happens is the officer is going to review the entire application and all of the immigration history. The officer is going to do this for several reasons.
First of all, they want to ensure the accuracy of the information in the application. They want to ensure the truthfulness of the information. Then also, they want to screen for eligibility. In other words, they want to make sure that you are eligible for naturalization.
Once the officer determines that you are eligible, what also happens at the interview is you will take two exams. The first will be the civics exam and the other exam will be the English exam. If all goes well, the officer will approve you. Then you will receive an appointment letter in the mail instructing you to show up for your oath ceremony. If you have any questions about the naturalization process or any other immigration matters, please give us a call.
What Do I Submit With the N-400 Application?
The other day we spoke with a client. We were talking about the naturalization process. The client asked what they needed to submit with their N-400 naturalization application. What we do is we prepare a list for all of our clients of all of the documents that you need to submit along with the N-400 application.
It’s important to remember that every case is different; however, you want to submit documents that are going to help you show that you are eligible for naturalization. For example, one of the requirements is that you must be a lawful permanent resident for at least five years. You want to submit proof that you were a lawful permanent resident for at least five years. Normally, what we would do is we would submit a copy of the front and back of your permanent resident card.
In addition, another requirement is that you must be residing in the United States, so we would submit proof that you’ve been residing here in the United States. For example, a utility bill. Again, every case is different. If you have any questions about your naturalization application or any other immigration matters, please give us a call.
What Happens If My Application Is Approved?
Clients often ask what happens after a naturalization application is approved. In most cases, what’s going to happen is you will receive an appointment letter in the mail. This appointment will tell you to attend an oath ceremony.
At that oath ceremony, you, of course, will take the oath. Then you will receive the Certificate of Naturalization right then and there. In some rare cases, however, what could happen is you will take the oath right after the interview and you will receive the Certificate of Naturalization right then and there. If you have any questions about naturalization or any other immigration matters, please give us a call.
What Happens If My Application Is Denied?
We were talking with a potential client the other day who was very concerned about the application process. What we like to do is prepare our clients for all of the potential possibilities. What happens if your naturalization application is denied?
In some cases, what you could do is you can actually appeal this denial. In other cases, what you could do is you can go back, try to fix the reasons why you were denied, and then reapply. There are no limits on the amount of times that you can apply for naturalization. If you have any questions about naturalization or any other immigration matters, please give us a call.
Call Our Buffalo, NY Naturalization Lawyer Today
If you need help becoming a naturalized United States citizen, please reach out to our Buffalo, NY naturalization lawyer today so we can set up some time to get to know you and how we can help you with your immigration matters. We are looking forward to helping you during this exciting time and giving you the support you need so you don’t feel overwhelmed. Call our office today.