COMMON NATURALIZATION PITFALLS
If you have been a green card holder now for long enough to qualify for naturalization and would like to take this step further there are certain pitfalls you should avoid before commencing the naturalization process.
When you were granted your green card there were certain criteria you needed to follow for the application to be successful, many of which were based on proving your character is suitable morally to reside permanently in the United States. This is the same for a naturalization application.
You should ensure you have adhered to the following:
- You cannot be in possession of a criminal record, such as for example felonies, domestic violence crimes and drug crimes. Even unpaid taxes could mean you are refused naturalization.
- You must have provided truthful information to the USCIS in any previous applications filed through them. If you find now with your naturalization application that you omitted vital information in any prior immigration petitions, you must ensure you correct this and inform the USCIS why this information was overlooked. If you don’t you may find you are not only refused naturalization but you might be investigated for fraud too.
- You must ensure over time that you have kept the USCIS informed of your current address. This is a requirement if you are a green card holder.
To be considered for naturalization you must have maintained physical presence and continuous residence in the United States before an application is made for citizenship as follows:
- stayed continuously in the U.S.A. for 5 years before filing an application or;
- stayed continuously in the U.S.A. for 3 years for qualified spouses of U.S.A. citizens;
- absences that exceed 6 months but are less than 1 year could interrupt the continuous residence requirement;
- absences that amount to more than 12 months could also interrupt the applicant’s continuous residence.
Applicants must prove that they were:
- present in the U.S.A. for 30 months in the preceding 5 years before filing an application , or;
- in the case of a spouse who qualifies due to his or her relationship with a U.S. citizen the physical presence must be 18 months within the preceding 3 years;
- additionally, applicants must show they have lived for no less than 3 months immediately before filing Form N-400 in the USCIS state or district where the applicant has said he or she resides.
If you don’t closely adhered to the above guidelines you may have citizenship denied and if you have been convicted of an offense you may be removed from the country. You should hire an experienced immigration lawyer before making an application for naturalization – otherwise you may find yourself in a more difficult situation if you succumb to any pitfalls.
Trying to determine whether your parents can naturalize if they don’t speak English? Learn about the medical waiver and contact us to learn if it can apply to you.
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