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Citizenship

Frequently Asked Questions About Citizenship**

Normally, you can apply for US Citizenship if you have been a Lawful Permanent Resident (a Green Card holder) for 5 years or more, you can pass the English and US history tests, you are a person of “Good Moral Character”, and you are willing to take the oath of citizenship.

Can I apply for US Citizenship?

If you are married to a United States citizen and you received your Green Card based on the marriage, you can apply for your citizenship 3 years after receiving your Green Card.
You can file your application for citizenship up to 90 days before the 5 and 3 year waiting periods.

How long does it take to get my Citizenship?
From the time you mail your application until the time you become a US Citizen is usually between 10 and 18 months.  It depends on where you live (different immigration offices serve different states and some offices are faster than others) and on how difficult your case is. Some cases are difficult because the immigrant spent long periods of time outside the United States, or cannot take the English test due to a disability, or cannot demonstrate “Good Moral Character,” etc.  If you have an issue like these in your case, I can help.

Can I apply for citizenship if I have been outside the United States?
If you have spent a lot of time outside the United States during the past 5 years, you might not be able to apply for US Citizenship now. You can contact me and I will be happy to discuss your specific case with you.

Can I become a citizen if I committed a crime?
It depends on the crime. Some crimes prevent you from becoming a US Citizen, others do not. If you have committed a crime and plan to apply for citizenship, it is very important that you speak with an attorney before you send your application.  If you have committed a crime and apply for US Citizenship, you could be deported once the Immigration Service learns about your crime.  Please contact me if you would like to discuss this issue.

Must I take the English and history exams?
The English exam tests your ability to speak, understand, read, and write in English.  The history exam (also called the civics exam) tests your knowledge of United States history and government.
Not everyone is required to take the exams.  If you are over 50 years old and have been a Lawful Permanent Resident for 20 years or more, you do not have to take the English test.  If you are over 55 years old and have been a Lawful Permanent Resident for 15 years or more, you do not have to take the English test. In both these cases, you must take the US history test in your native language.  If you are over 65 years old and have been a Lawful Permanent Resident for 20 years or more, you do not have to take the English test and you can take an easy version of the history test in your native language.
People who have a learning disability do not have to take the tests, though you need to prove to Immigration that you have a disability.  I can help you make this application.

What are the benefits of United States Citizenship?
There are many benefits of US Citizenship. Here are some of the most important:
SECURITY: Protect your family, your property, and your assets.  You can not be deported if you are a US Citizen.  You can be deported if you have only a Green Card, even if you have lived in the United States for many years.
When you leave the country, you can not be denied re-entry into the US if you are a US Citizen.  You can be denied re-entry if you travel with only a Green Card.
TRAVEL: You can travel using a US Passport. You can visit most countries without a visa.  This saves time and money.  Plus, if you need assistance while traveling abroad, you can get help from the United States embassy.
EMPLOYMENT: There are many jobs you can not qualify for unless you are a US Citizen.  Many federal, state, and local government jobs require that you be a US Citizen.  Also, many jobs in private business now require US Citizenship.
FAMILY: You can bring your family members to the United States more quickly if you are a US Citizen.  You can file to bring your husband or wife, fiance, children, parents, and sisters and brothers to the United States if you are a US Citizen.
VOTE: You can vote in elections if you are a US Citizen.  Plus, you can run for elected office once you are a US Citizen.
GOVERNMENT BENEFITS: You may be eligible for government benefits, such as social security, once you are a US Citizen.

Where can I get more information?
If you contact me at (202) 328-1353 or Jason@LawMavens.com, I would be happy to answer your questions.  Also, a good source of information on Citizenship is the US government’s Guide to Naturalization.  To view the on-line version of the Guide, click here.

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The information on this website is not legal advice, nor is it intended to be legal advice. You should consult an attorney for specific advice concerning your own situation.

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