Month: October 2017

What are the requirements for Naturalization?

If you are not a U.S. citizen by birth or did not acquire U.S. citizenship automatically after birth, you may still be eligible to become a citizen through the naturalization process.

What form do I need to fill out to begin the naturalization process?

If You Are: Required Forms
Are 18 years of age and older Application for Naturalization (Form N-400)
Acquired citizenship from your parent(s)while you were under 18 years of age Application for a Certificate of Citizenship (Form N-600)
Are an adopted child who acquired citizenship from your parent(s)

 

What are the requirements for naturalization?

What are the requirements for naturalization?

The basic requirements for naturalization are as follows:

  • You should be over 18 years old, and a permanent resident;
  • You should have resided in the U.S. as a lawful permanent resident for five years continuously before you file for naturalization. This period is reduced to three years if you are married to and living with the same U.S. Citizen spouse who petitioned for you or at least three years as a permanent resident;
  • You must have been physically present in the U.S. for at least half of that 5 or 3 year period;
  • You have to demonstrate that you are a person of good moral character;
  • You must demonstrate a basic knowledge of U.S. history and government knowledge;
  • You must show that you can read, write, and speak simple English;
  • Finally, you must pledge allegiance to the United States government.

What does it mean to have “good moral character”?

Good moral character is a very important requirement for naturalization. Certain actions, such as illegal gambling, prostitution, failure to pay your taxes, lying to immigration officials, problems with drugs or alcohol, or being in arrears with your child support payments, may make it difficult to prove good moral character. Parking tickets or minor offenses do not usually disqualify an applicant, but repeated convictions for minor violations might. Having a criminal record can make the process a bit more difficult, but it does not mean you will be automatically denied.

Sometimes people with criminal records fail to apply for citizenship, because they believe that they are ineligible. It is a misconception that a person who has been charged with a crime cannot become a citizen. A person may be eligible for citizenship, even if he or she has been charged with a crime in certain instances. If you have a criminal record, it is recommended that you contact an experienced immigration attorney for advice, before filing your naturalization application.

If I have been convicted of a crime, but my record has been legally erased, do I need to indicate that on my application or inform an Immigration Officer?

Yes. In fact, you should always be honest with Immigration regarding the following:

  • Arrests (including those by police, Immigration Officers, and other Federal Agents);
  • Convictions (even if they have been erased/expunged); and,
  • Crimes you committed for which you were not arrested or convicted.

Even if you have committed a minor crime, Immigration may deny your application if you do not mention any previous incidents to the Immigration Officer. It is extremely important that you inform Immigration about any and all arrests, even if someone else has advised you that you are not required to do so.

Where do I file my naturalization application?

You should send your completed Application for Naturalization (Form N-400) or appropriate naturalization form to the appropriate United States Citizenship and Immigration Services Service (USCIS) Center.

How can I pay my application fee?

You must send your fee with your application. Remember that your application fee is not refundable, even if you withdraw your application or the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) denies your case. You must pay your application fee with a check or money order drawn on a U.S. bank in U.S. dollars, payable to the “USCIS.” However, if you are a resident of Guam or the U.S. Virgin Islands, the rules are as follows:

 

If you are a Resident of: Make fees payable to:
Guam “Treasurer, Guam”
U.S. Virgin Islands “Commissioner of Finance of the Virgin Islands”

 

Do I have to go for an interview or take an examination, as part of the naturalization process?

Yes. Each naturalization applicant must undergo an interview with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). At the interview, you will be asked questions about your application for naturalization and background. Appendix 1 has some very useful tips on how to behave during the interview process. Every applicant must then take an examination, which will test their knowledge of the English language, and a civics exam to test their knowledge of U.S. history and government.

Where can i be fingerprinted?

After the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has received your application, they will notify you of the location where you should report to get fingerprinted.

Will United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) provide special accommodations for me if I am disabled?

Some people with disabilities need special consideration during the naturalization process. United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will make every effort to make reasonable accommodations in these cases. For example, if you use a wheelchair, they will make sure your fingerprint location is wheelchair accessible. If you are hearing impaired and wish to bring a sign language interpreter to your interview, you may do so. Asking for a special accommodation will not affect your eligibility for naturalization. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) makes decisions about How long will it take to become naturalized

The time it takes to become a citizen varies from one local office to another.

How do I determine the status of my naturalization application?

The receipt notice which you will receive from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will provide you with the approximate time it will take for them to process your case. If you have NOT been scheduled for a naturalization interview, you can visit the local office having jurisdiction over your case, to inquire about the status of your application.

Can I reapply for naturalization if the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) denies my application?

In most cases, you may reapply for citizenship if the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) denies your application. If you reapply, you will need to complete and resubmit a new Application for Naturalization (N-400) form and pay the fee again. You will also need to have your fingerprints and photographs taken again. If your application is denied, the denial letter should indicate the date you may reapply for citizenship. If you are denied because you failed the English or civics test, you may reapply for naturalization anytime after your denial. You should reapply whenever you believe you have learned English or civics well enough to pass the test.

When did/does my time as a Permanent Resident begin?

Your time as a Permanent Resident begins on the date you were granted permanent resident status. This date will be printed on your Permanent Resident Card (formerly known as an Alien Registration Card). Figure A shows a sample Permanent Resident card:

FIGURE A:

If the United States Citizenship and Immigrations Services (USCIS) grants me naturalization, when will I become a citizen?

You become a citizen as soon as you take the Oath of Allegiance to the United States. In some places, you can choose to take the Oath the same day as your interview. If that option is not or if you prefer a ceremony at a later date, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will notify you of the ceremony date with a Notice of Naturalization Oath Ceremony (Form N-445).

What does the Naturalization Certificate look like?

Figure B illustrates a sample Naturalization Certificate:

FIGURE B:

How do I register with Selective Service?

Selective Service registration allows the United States Government to maintain a list of names of men who may be called into military service, in case of a national emergency requiring rapid expansion of the U.S. Armed Forces. By registering all young men, the Selective Service can ensure that any future draft will be fair and equitable. Federal law requires that men who are at least 18 years old, but not yet 26 years old, be registered with Selective Service. This also includes all male non-citizens within these age limits who permanently reside in the United States. Men who are lawful permanent residents must register. Men cannot register for the Selective Service after reaching the age 26.

Why do I need to register with the Selective Service?

Failure to register for the Selective Service may (in certain instances) make you ineligible for certain immigration benefits, such as citizenship.

Conclusion

Given the current challenges facing those seeking U.S. citizenship, it is strongly recommended that everyone interested in doing so should consider becoming a citizen as soon as they become eligible. There are a number of ways to be considered a “born U.S. citizen” — generally speaking, these include if you are born in the United States or if you are born to U.S. citizen parents. Please note that there are a number of conditions that must be met to be considered a naturalized U.S. citizen. A variety of significant benefits await all who become U.S. citizens. If you are a U.S. citizen, you will not be deported, even if you are charged with a serious crime (in most cases). Additionally, becoming a citizen gives you the right to vote, become eligible for Medicaid, sponsor relatives, etc.

 

Call BLACKMAN & MELVILLE, P.C at (718) 576-1646 for a free personal consultation.

WHAT IS POLITICAL ASYLUM?

Are you in fear of persecution in your home country
because of your race, religion or membership in a social group?

Do you fear future persecution in your home country
because of your political views or membership in a particular social group?

If you’ve answered “Yes” to either question above, you may be able to seek asylum in the United States.Every year, people come to the United States to escape present or future persecution because of their race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or their political opinion. In 1981, the United States passed the Refugee Act enabling the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to grant political asylum or refugee status to those who fear persecution in their home country. According to a recent New York Times article (J. Preston, 9/30/10), the U.S. granted asylum in more than 22,000 cases in 2009.

What is Political Asylum?

Political asylum is a form of protection available to people already present in the U.S. who are afraid of returning to their home country because of actual persecution, or who have a well-founded fear of actual persecution because of their:

  • Race
  • Religion
  • national Origin
  • Membership in a particular social group
  • Political Views

If you are still in your home country, and the above applies to you, you may be able to get refugee status, instead of asylee status. In other words, a “refugee” is a person who is living outside the United States and intends to enter the U.S. because he or she fears persecution in his or her home country, due to the above mentioned grounds. Those eligible for political asylum or refugee status can become lawful permanent residents after their cases are approved by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) or the Immigration Judge.

Who can apply for asylum?

Individuals of any nationality must request political asylum at a U.S. port of entry (airport, seaport or border crossing), or file for it within one (1) year of arriving in the U.S. You will not be eligible for asylum for Nepalis if you participated in the persecution of others or if you have “firmly resettled” in another country. If you entered the U.S. on a valid visa, the time you spent in the U.S. with that visa does not count as part of the one (1) year period.

When must I apply for asylum?

Generally, you must apply for asylum within one (1) year of your last arrival into the U.S. Exceptions may apply, such as: (1) changed circumstances in your home country that affect your eligibility, or (2) extraordinary circumstances related to your lateness in filing.

Can I apply for asylum if I am here illegally?

Yes. You can apply for political asylum, even if you are in the U.S. illegally. For example, if you have entered the United States by means of a fraudulent visa or have crossed the border, you may still apply for political asylum within one (1) year of your last arrival. You may file after the one (1) year mark, but only if you are able to demonstrate that you are eligible for an exception to the one (1) year rule.

Can I apply for asylum if I was convicted of a crime?

Yes. However, depending on the crime, you may be barred from being granted asylum.

Can I be barred from applying for asylum or being granted asylum?

You may be barred from applying for asylum if:

  • You applied for asylum before and were denied by an immigration judge or the Board
  • You did not apply within one (1) year of your last arrival; or,
  • You could be removed to a safe third-party country.

However, you can request a reopening of your asylum case, based upon changed country conditions in your home country.

How do I apply for asylum?

To apply for asylum, you will need to complete an Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal (Form I-589) and follow the instructions very carefully. It is strongly recommended that you retain an experienced immigration attorney if you are considering applying for political asylum. If you do not have any other legal status and if an asylum application is denied by the immigration judge (or other similar forms of relief, such as withholding of removal, relief under the convention against torture, etc., are denied), then you will be ordered deported by the immigration judge.

Am I subject to security and background checks, if I apply for asylum?

Yes. Every individual who applies for asylum is subject to background checks and security checks from Immigration Appeals;

Will I be fingerprinted if I apply for asylum?

Yes. After you have filed your asylum application, you will receive a notice in the mail with the date, time, and location where you have to report for fingerprinting.

Are there other similar forms of relief which can be granted if my asylum claim is denied?

Yes. The most common, similar forms of relief are withholding of removal, relief under the convention against torture, and voluntary departure.

Can my family accompany me if I apply for asylum in the U.S.?

Your spouse and children present in the United States may be included on your application at the time you file or at any time thereafter until a final decision is made on your application. Your children must be under twenty-one (21) and unmarried to be included as dependents. They should accompany you to your asylum interview.

Can I work after I file for asylum?

If United States Immigration and Naturalization Services has received your complete asylum application. It takes approximately thirty (30) days to know if your request for employment has been granted or not. If granted asylee status, you are authorized to work, as soon as your asylum case has been approved.

Can I travel outside of the U.S. after I file for asylum?

If you have to travel outside the U.S. before a final decision has been made on your asylum case, you must receive Advanced Parole before leaving the U.S., so you will be allowed back in upon your return. If you do not get Advanced Parole, your application for asylum might be denied, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will presume you have abandoned your asylum application. It is strongly recommended that you should not travel to the Country where you fear the persecution.

Can I get a green card (lawful permanent resident status) if granted asylum?

Yes. After one (1) year of your approved asylee status, you can apply for adjustment of status to become a lawful permanent resident of the United States.

Does the U.S. limit the number of individuals who can be granted asylum?

No. There is no quota limit on the number of individuals who can be granted political asylum; however, every year there is a limit (10,000) on the number of people who can get permanent resident status based on political asylum. At BLACKMAN & MELVILLE, P.C, we understand the complexities of deportation. In order to adequately defend your rights before an Immigration Judge, call BLACKMAN & MELVILLE, P.C at (718) 576-1646 for a free personal consultation.