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Naturalization Traps and Common Pitfalls to Avoid

If you are getting ready to start the naturalization process, there are certain things you need to be aware of. Even though this process is relatively straightforward, there are some very common pitfalls and traps you could fall into that could hinder your immigration case. In this article, we will be discussing how the naturalization process works and what you need to avoid.

Understanding the Naturalization Process

If you want to become a United States citizen, there are a few different ways to do this. One of the most popular ways to become a U.S. citizen is to go through the naturalization process established by Congress. This allows you to become a citizen after you have met certain requirements.

To apply for naturalization, you must fill out form N-400; if it is accepted, you will have to take the oath of citizenship. You will also be required to attend an interview and take the U.S. naturalization test, which consists of a civics test and an English test.

The most basic requirements for starting this process include being at least 18 years old, having the ability to read, write, and speak basic English, and being of good moral character.

Other Naturalization Requirements

A common issue people have is not entirely understanding the requirements for becoming a United States citizen. For your naturalization application to even be considered, you have to meet the requirements, which include:

  • Physical presence in the U.S.: To be granted naturalization, you have to have lived in the United States for a certain period of time. For many people, you must have been president in the United States for at least 30 months if you hold a five-year green card. In situations based on marriage, you have to have been physically present in the United States for at least 18 months.
  • English and U.S. history: Those who want to become permanent citizens must have a firm grasp of the English language that extends to reading and writing. You also have to have a basic understanding of U.S. history and government. The good news is that many resources are now available that can help you review the materials that will be included in both parts of the test.
  • Lawful permanent residency: Before starting your naturalization application, you have to have maintained a lawful permanent resident status. This can include having a green card for around five years or being married to a U.S. citizen for three years.

Common Naturalization Traps

Even if you meet all of the requirements for starting the naturalization process, there are other things you need to be aware of. Even the smallest mistake can lead to your application being denied or delayed by several months. That is just one reason why hiring an immigration attorney is a good idea if you want to become a U.S. citizen as soon as possible.

Incorrectly Filling Out Form N-400

Your naturalization application could be denied or delayed due to the slightest error when filling out the form N-400. You need to follow the instructions to fill out all required sections and include crucial information.

Other things to keep in mind are that you should keep the ink color black, pay the required fees when submitting the application, and have the document translated if it is not in English.

Requirements For Physical Presence

Having enough physical presence in the United States is crucial for you to qualify for naturalization. This is often broken down by day, which can make it difficult to figure out if you have enough physical presence.

If you have a green card because you are married to a United States citizen, you need to have spent 548 days in the U.S. For other types of green card holders, you need to have spent at least 913 days in the U.S. to qualify. Some exceptions include refugees, asylees, and VAWA recipients.

Continuous Residence

It isn’t enough to meet the physical presence requirements for naturalization; you also can’t have a break in your continuous residence. You must maintain a permanent residence in the U.S. for your physical presence to qualify.

Traveling outside of the United States for any longer than six months at a time while you are a green card holder could create a break in your continuous presence. This is something that could result in your application being denied if it’s determined that you don’t meet the requirements.

You may be able to get around this by providing evidence that you did not break your continuous residence. An immigration attorney can help you collect the right evidence and present it for your immigration case.

Criminal Records

Naturalization applications may be denied due to certain types of crimes that could end up on your criminal record. It is strongly advised that you get the assistance of a lawyer if you have any kind of critical record that could delay the filing process or result in a denial.

Good Moral Character

One of the most tricky aspects of applying for naturalization is passing the requirement of good moral character. This is a very vague requirement, which is why there are some misconceptions about what it means.

Something that could reflect badly on your character is having a criminal record. However, other things will also be taken into consideration, such as failure to pay child support, failing to notify the USCIS of an address change, committing adultery, or failing to file an income tax return. These are just a few examples of things that could reflect a poor moral character, resulting in a denial.

Hire an Immigration Attorney Today

Are you ready to start the naturalization process? Contact us today at U.S. Immigration Law Counsel by filling out our online form or contacting us directly by calling 800-666-4996 to speak with an immigration attorney. Our immigration lawyers will deal with the government, so you don’t have to!

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