The final step in US immigration is becoming a US citizen. While I have not been to a swearing in ceremony, many have told me of its incredible impact: as nationals are called by country to stand and to be honored, before all together swear the oath of allegiance to the United States.
When can a green card holder file for US citizenship?
Timing depends upon how the applicant originally gained lawful permanent resident status (i.e. the green card).
- Spouses of US citizens who are still with their partner may apply after being an LPR for two years and nine months (as long as they have been married for at least two years at the time of filing).
- Everyone else may file being an LPR for four years and nine months.
What are the criteria for qualification?
It is important to consult with a competent immigration attorney to ensure that the applicant is qualified to file for US citizenship.
- Physically present in the United States for at least half of the wait time listed above
- That for any trips of 180 days or more (and in certain circumstances less time), can show that he or she did not intend to abandon residency
- Can demonstrate good moral character
- The applicant also must be able to take and pass a small exam at interview
- There are numerous other criteria, as outlined on the application itself
Why would we hire an attorney to handle our case?
In my professional opinion, every couple should hire a competent immigration attorney to handle the green card and naturalization process. (And I do not say this for every visa category.) Your immigration attorney will analyze the applicant's eligibility for the benefit, fully vet the case for any issues or potential problems, and determine where the green card application may be filed.
For example, it is important to review all past applications to determine if any inconsistencies will need to be explained; to evaluate a person's strong ties and intent when having an international trip or more of significant length; to review arrests/convictions; Selective Service registration and other factors.
I have successfully prepared successful naturalization applications, that have trips of significant length, criminal issues and failure to register for selective service. Additionally, I work carefully with clients to ensure that the case is processed as quickly as possible, all questions are answered and all issues addressed in a clear, concise manner.