The process of obtaining U.S. citizenship used to be fairly straightforward, but in these days of heightened security concerns, that has changed. The Department of Homeland Security, which operates U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), considers a large range of issues throughout a candidate’s immigration record. Many applicants find that their applications met with a denial even before taking the citizenship test. In many cases, a denial could have been avoided with the right preparation and application strategies.

An experienced Wheaton citizenship/naturalization lawyer could help at all stages of the process. While many applicants for naturalization worry about the citizenship test, it is inaccuracies and omissions on applications that often cause more problems. An immigration lawyer could help ensure that requirements are fulfilled, and obstacles removed so that an applicant may look forward to a successful outcome.

Eligibility for Citizenship

The first step toward applying for naturalization to become a U.S. citizen is to determine whether all qualifications have been met. Eligibility standards vary depending on the situation of the applicant. USCIS offers an eligibility worksheet that might help some applicants determine whether they meet requirements, but it does not help those who are under the age of 18 and many of those applying in connection with service of themselves or a spouse in the U.S. armed services.

For most applicants, qualifications include being at least 18-years-old and holding status as a lawful permanent resident of the U.S. for a certain period. The length of time varies between three to five years for most applicants. In addition, the applicant must fulfill local residency requirements and not have spent too much time traveling abroad in the years before applying. A Wheaton citizenship/naturalization lawyer could help ascertain the requirements that pertain to a particular situation.

Other requirements include an ability to read, speak, and write in the English language, a knowledge of the principals of U.S. government and history, and good moral character. Applicants who are eligible for registration with Selective Service must have registered and not deserted or received a dishonorable discharge from the U.S. armed forces. Finally, applicants must also be willing to pledge allegiance to the U.S. and to support the Constitution.

Applying for Naturalization

After determining eligibility and gathering the required documentation to demonstrate qualifications, an applicant may fill out Form N-400, Application for Naturalization. It is essential to complete the form correctly because if USCIS determines that any information is “fraudulent,” that could provide grounds to deny naturalization without the opportunity to reapply. A Wheaton citizenship/naturalization lawyer could help with preparing the application and required documentation.

When the application is ready, it should be submitted to USCIS and the agency then sends a receipt. If necessary, USCIS would make an appointment for collecting biometric information such as fingerprints. After a preliminary review of the information is completed, USCIS then schedules an interview with the applicant. A citizenship attorney could assist with preparation for the interview, during which the applicant is tested on knowledge of English and U.S. civics.

Help from a Wheaton Citizenship/Naturalization Attorney

While many people in Wheaton expect to need help from an attorney while applying for naturalization, they do not realize that a citizenship lawyer could also help after the application is complete. If there is a delay in receiving a notice of the decision, an attorney could investigate to determine whether a delay is caused by missing information and to help resolve the issue.

In some cases, it may be advisable to file a lawsuit to spur the agency to complete the decision-making process because delays often prove costly. Every person who applies for citizenship is unique, and the path to citizenship may be different. To learn how an experienced Wheaton citizenship/naturalization lawyer could assist in your case, call now for a confidential consultation.

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