Do I Need to Hire an Attorney to Get Naturalized?
Someone can become a citizen of the United States through birth, derivation through the naturalization of a parent or through naturalization. You are not required to hire an attorney to manage your naturalization application. However, immigration law is complicated, confusing and – especially now – changing rapidly. The advice and guidance of an experienced immigration lawyer can save you time, money and stress – and make the difference in whether your citizenship application is approved or denied.
What Is Naturalization?
Naturalization occurs when a person voluntarily applies to become a permanent United States citizen and is overseen by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). In most cases, someone seeking citizenship through the naturalization process must be at least 18 years old and have been a Legal Permanent Resident (LPR, or green card) in the United States for five years or more.
Eligible naturalization applicants can file a Form N-400 Application for Naturalization, which is available from the USCIS website either online or through a local field office, and most applicants must submit biometric information such as fingerprints and body measurements and pay an application filing fee. Then, USCIS will schedule an interview as the next step in the process of becoming a naturalized citizen.
Should I Hire an Attorney to Get Naturalized?
1. Wait Times Have Doubled
The New York Times reports that wait times for citizenship applications have doubled in the past 2 years, and is now from 10 to 31 months, depending on where you live and how long that field office’s backlog, due to tightened requirements and screening requirements implemented by the Trump administration.
2. More Naturalization Applications Are Being Denied
97,000 naturalization applications were denied in 2019: nearly twice the amount of green card applications that were denied, and there are close to 650,000 pending naturalization applications nationwide.
3. Minor Issues Can Derail an Application
Minor or accidental issues can be a potential roadblock to the naturalization process but are taken extremely seriously by USCIS, such as claiming to be a United States citizen by registering to vote.
An experienced immigration lawyer knows and understands current immigration laws and can assist you with your naturalization application by helping you spot potential roadblocks in your background that can derail your application. Experienced immigration attorneys can save you money, time and stress and make sure your application has all the required documents and that the process is done correctly the first time and accompany you to your immigration interview. If USCIS denies your application or there is a misunderstanding, your lawyer can help clarify and resolve the miscommunication.
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United States immigration laws can be extraordinarily complicated. A small mistake on a naturalization application can lead to years of delays to citizenship and even outright denials and deportation. Your decision to hire an experienced immigration lawyer can save you time, money and stress – and make the difference between your naturalization application being denied or approved. Contact Godoy Law Office, our skilled immigration lawyers in Chicago, Lombard and Oak Brook can answer any questions about immigration and guide you through every step of the process.