What you need to know BEFORE you I enjoy helping clients become citizens because it allows them to improve the quality of their life and begin a new legacy for their families. Although the journey to Citizenship seems simple, there are many pitfalls that could lead to an unhappy outcome. In fact, without the proper guidance and advice you could find yourself in deportation proceedings. Here are a few things you should consider before applying for citizenship.
#1 The Process
Before you become a citizen you must file an application and attend an interview. You will be tested on your knowledge of US History and English. There are study materials available to help you prepare and pass the exam on the first try. Also, there are certain accommodations or exceptions for certain individuals based on age, residency or disability.
#2 Citizenship is not Green Card Renewal
Applying for Citizenship is not the same thing as renewing your green card. This is because you are applying for a new status that comes with many new benefits (including never renewing your green card again!) Therefore, you will undergo a more stringent background check than during a green card renewal. Your entire immigration history will be fair game for scrutiny. For example, if you obtained your green card through dubious and questionable means then you could be opening up a can of worms that could lead to deportation.
#3 Your Moral Character is Critical
One of the requirements for obtaining US citizenship is having a good moral character. Although certain criminal behavior will disqualify you from citizenship, there are other things that could affect your good moral character determination. For instance, substance abuse issues, tax debts or child support obligations could negatively impact your citizenship application.
#4 Your Travel Time Matters
Another requirement which may affect your citizenship application is physical presence. Depending on the basis of your application (i.e. marriage to a USC or being 5-year green card holder), you must be physically present in the US for at least half of the time you have been a permanent resident. So if you travel a lot or spent substantial time abroad, not only could your permanent residency status be in jeopardy but you may have to wait to qualify for citizenship. For example, if you are applying for citizenship based on your marriage to a USC then you are eligible to apply for citizenship after 3 years of being a permanent residence. In this case, you must show that you were present in the US for at least 18 months of the 36 months of your permanent residency.
Applying for Citizenship is a major event in your immigration journey. Mistakes can become expensive and even result in deportation. Don't leave your citizenship up to chance, hire a professional to handle your case. Contact our office if you, a family member or friend is ready to take the next step towards becoming a US Citizen. We are here for you and we’d love to help you achieve your American Dream!