Naturalization Process - The naturalization process can be confusing and risky for some noncitizens. A noncitizen must meet the specific criteria to be eligible to naturalize and become a United States Citizen. First, the noncitizen must be “lawfully admitted for permanent residence.” In other words, the noncitizen must have a green card, and must have been entitled to the green card. For example, if a lawful permanent resident (“LPR”) was issued a green card based on false information, s/he was not lawfully entitled to the green card. Second, the LPR must be at least 18 years old at the time of filing the naturalization application (N-400). Third, the applicant must have continuous residence in the United States for three or five years depending on the applicant’s specific situation. Continuous residence is broken if the applicant has spent a significant amount of time outside the United States. Fourth, the applicant must have been in the United States for at least half the total required period of continuous residence. For example, an applicant required to have five years of continued presence cannot have 2.5 years outside the United States during the last five years.

There are exceptions to the above rules for religious missionaries and applicants serving in the armed forces.

A major requirement is that the applicant must be a person of good moral character. Seemingly minor criminal convictions can render an applicant ineligible to naturalize, and, in some cases, the applicant might be pleased in deportation proceedings depending on the severity of the conviction. For this reason, filing a naturalization application can be a risky proposition for some. If an applicant files a naturalization application, s/he might wind up in deportation proceedings. In essence, the filing of the naturalization application alerts the U.S. Government of your criminal history.

Good moral character issues are not limited to criminal convictions. Failure to pay child support, illegal gambling, alcoholism, drug abuse, failure to register with Selective Service and adultery are just a few of the other bars to naturalization.

Special circumstances exist for individuals who have served honorably in the United States Armed Forces during wartime. These individuals may be eligible to become naturalized citizens even if they are not legal permanent residents. In essence, they jump from having no green card to becoming a U.S. Citizen due to their wartime service.

Most applicants are required to take a literacy, English and civics test as well. Some applicants are not required to take the exam such as older applicants and those physically unable to take the exam.

How The Classic Firm can help you: The naturalization process can be difficult and risky. Oftentimes, it is possible to determine whether the application will be granted prior to filing. The Classic Firm can help you determine whether it is worthwhile for you to file a naturalization application or whether there is a risk of deportation and denial. The Classic Firm will review your case thoroughly before filing, help you file the application and attend your naturalization interview with you. Similarly, if your naturalization application was recently denied, you may be entitled to an appeal. Contact The Classic Firm to discuss your case.


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