Citizenship by Naturalization

Back in 1999, my brother and I were fortunate to be present when my father, an immigrant from Croatia, took the oath of citizenship in a naturalization ceremony in Philadelphia. Although he had been a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) for decades, he was finally sworn in among immigrants from all over the world. He immediately registered to vote and applied for a US passport, and now enjoys all the privileges of US citizenship. While my father’s journey to become a lawful permanent resident happened years before I was born, I became interested in becoming an Immigration Lawyer to help others attain legal status and citizenship in the US.

In order to be eligible to naturalize, an individual must be 18 years of age or older (children can often naturalize when their parents become citizens); have been an LPR residing in the United States for at least five years (three years for a spouse of a citizen); have a basic knowledge of US government; be of good moral character; have a period of continuous residence in the United States, and be able to read, write and speak basic English. There are exceptions to some of these requirements. An Immigration Lawyer can discuss these with you.

Assuming eligibility, once an individual is an LPR, what are the steps to becoming a citizen? First, you must file form N-400 with USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services). You must also pay the filing fee of $595, plus biometrics fee of $85, but the application fee will be increasing to $640 as of December 23, 2016.

Once your application is processed, you will be sent an appointment for an interview, where you will talk to an agent, take a civics and an English test, and, depending on your file and results of your test, you may take the oath of citizenship that day!

It may be advisable to speak to a lawyer before applying for citizenship. For example, if you have been charged with a crime, or have any issue with unlawful presence in the country, you should know that your immigration status will be reviewed carefully when you apply for citizenship, and any such issues that come to the attention of immigration officials could lead to removal proceedings. An Immigration Lawyer can advise you whether you should apply for citizenship.

This is a great time to apply for naturalization before fees increase! If you have any questions about your eligibility to become a US citizen, contact the Mazza Law Group today!

Citizenship by Naturalization was last modified: November 1st, 2016 by Helen Stolinas