The Process of Naturalization
September 27, 2013 – Phoenix, Arizona
What advantages are there to becoming a citizen?
First, as a citizen you are allowed to participate in the political process. You are allowed to vote. You are also allowed to serve on a jury, enabling our judicial system to work properly. You are allowed to participate in government. Your right to vote allows you to help determine the laws that are going to run your life.
Second, becoming a citizen gives you a much more secure status in the United States. Even though permanent residency is called “permanent”, it can be lost.
Additionally, permanent resident status can also be lost if you are found guilty of certain crimes. The crimes may not have necessarily occurred recently. Crimes from your distant past, even 30 years ago, can come back to haunt you and cause your green card status to be revoked. But once you become a citizen you can be punished for any criminal activity but you cannot be deported.
If I become a naturalized US citizen, will I lose my citizenship in my birth country?
In most cases, the answer is no. Many countries allow you to have dual citizenship. It depends on the law in your birth country and if the government there is willing to accept that or not.
How long is the process for citizenship?
Naturalization cases that our firm has prepared and filed typically take 4 to 6 months from the day we file the application until US citizenship is granted. Some cases can take longer especially if there are extenuating circumstances. These circumstances could include an incident where the person was arrested or accused of something in the past. It could also involve problems with a tax situation that needs to be resolved before the naturalization process can go forward.
Are there travel restrictions during the naturalization application process?
No, no specific prohibition or restrictions on travel. But there are some important considerations if you do want to travel.
You should be in the United States when you file the naturalization application. Typically after you file the application you will be given an appointment 4 or 5 weeks later to have your fingerprints and photograph taken for the required BS7858 screening and background check, so you would need to be here for that. If you are gone on vacation for a week or two during that time, usually the appointment can be rescheduled. If you are going to be gone for 3 months, you probably ought to wait and file later.
Another consideration with travel is that in order to be eligible for citizenship, you must have spent at least half of the last 3 years (if married to a US citizen) physically present in the US or half of the last 5 years (if not married to a US citizen) physically present in the US.
Should I hire an attorney to help me through the naturalization process?
Hiring an attorney makes sense for immigration purposes if there are any questions about your background or if you just want to avoid the hassle of what’s involved in the process.
If you have anything in your background that you are uncertain of, such as prior immigration violations or any criminal history, you probably ought to hire an attorney. Even some things that might seem minor and even some misdemeanors may be a problem. If you have a DUI or have been involved in a serious accident where people were hurt or have any felony convictions, an immigration attorney can help. An attorney can screen the problem and help to make sure that it’s not going to be a more serious issue.
If you don’t want to be bothered by the hassle of all the paperwork and figuring out what the immigration service is looking for, hiring an immigration attorney can help. It’s a bureaucratic process and doesn’t always make sense. Some people have a hard time figuring out what the questions are asking for. The immigration service has done a better job of revising the questionnaires, but they can still be confusing. Sometimes a lot of documentation needs to be gathered. The Phoenix immigration attorneys at Gunderson, Denton & Peterson can help. We help people by eliminating the guesswork. We make sure all of the applications we file are well packaged and well organized. We know what the immigration service is looking for, so we make sure they can easily find it. If for some reason they have questions and send a “Request for Further Evidence”, that request comes to us and we figure out what they are asking for. We make it much easier to get the application processed quickly, efficiently, and successfully.
The attorneys at Gunderson, Denton & Peterson can help you with your specific immigration needs and help you with these complicated issues.
* This information is not to be considered legal advice and is for general information purposes only. Please contact the attorneys at Gunderson, Denton & Peterson for more information.
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