Applying for U.S. Citizenship
Under U.S. immigration laws an individual may obtain citizenship by birth or naturalization. Naturalization is a process by which an individual not born in the United States becomes a U.S. citizen upon the fulfillment of certain requirements.
Ordinarily, an individual may apply for naturalization after five years of lawful permanent residence or three years of permanent residence, if applying based on marriage to a U.S. citizen.
The naturalization process can be complex and arduous depending on an applicant’s particular background. USCIS requires extensive information about an applicant, including criminal history, financial obligations, and familial connections, to ensure he or she is worthy of U.S. citizenship. It is best to consult an experienced attorney throughout this process to prevent unnecessary delay or denial.
Houston Lawyer for Citizenship and Naturalization
Are you a lawful permanent resident seeking to apply for citizenship or naturalization? Attorney Kathryn Karam has over eight years of experience assisting clients obtain citizenship. Attorney Karam is a Board Certified Immigration and Nationality Law attorney.
The Texas immigration attorneys at The Law Office of Kathryn N. Karam, P.C. serve numerous communities in Galveston County, Brazoria County, Fort Bend County, Harris County, and Montgomery County. You can receive a complete evaluation of your case by calling (832) 582-0620 right now to take advantage of a confidential consultation.
Texas Citizenship and Naturalization Information Center
- How do I apply for U.S. Citizenship?
- Why should I apply for U.S. Citizenship?
- What supporting documentation must I submit with my application?
- Where can I learn more about naturalization?
An applicant for U.S. citizenship must be a lawful permanent resident. Generally, an applicant may apply for citizenship by filing a Form N400, Application for Naturalization, with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) after five years of lawful permanent residence or three years, if applying based on marriage to a U.S. citizen.
Upon receipt of the N400 application, USCIS will schedule a biometrics appointment at a local facility. The applicant must attend this appointment, in which his or her fingerprints will be taken, on the date or dates indicated in the notice from USCIS. This appointment is mandatory and necessary for USCIS to conduct all necessary background checks.
Following the biometrics appointment, USCIS will schedule a naturalization interview. This interview is mandatory. If an applicant is unable to attend, he or she must notify USCIS in writing within a reasonable time. Failing to notify USCIS can result in considerable delays or the denial of the N400 application.
During the naturalization interview, USCIS reviews the N400 application and administers an exam, which tests the applicant understands of English, U.S. history, and Civics. However there are several exceptions or exemptions to the N400 testing requirements.
If the applicant’s naturalization application is approved, he or she is recommended for the naturalization and is scheduled for the next available naturalization ceremony. At the naturalization ceremony the applicant takes an Oath of Allegiance to the United States. He or she must denounce any allegiances to any other nation and swear allegiance to the U.S. The applicant also surrenders his or her green card and receives a certificate of naturalization.
If the applicant’s naturalization application is denied, he or she may request a hearing with an immigration officer or reapply for citizenship. The hearing with the immigration officer serves as an appeal. The decision of whether to appeal or reapply is fact determinative. An applicant should contact an experienced immigration attorney when making this decision.
While other forms of immigration relief, like lawful permanent residence or deferred action, confer many benefits, U.S. citizenship grants considerable benefits, including but not limited to:
- Bringing family members to the U.S.;
- Becoming eligible for Federal jobs; and
- Becoming an elected official
In addition to these benefits, U.S. citizen bestows many honorable responsibilities, including:
- Denouncing allegiance to any other nation;
- Swear allegiance to the United States;
- Support and defend the Constitution of the U.S.; and
- Serve the U.S. when required
The most important benefit of U.S. citizenship is the avoidance of deportation and the permanence of naturalization. There are many grounds under which a lawful permanent resident or green card holder may be deported, including a domestic violence conviction and voting in federal, state, or local election. Except in extreme circumstances, a U.S. citizenship cannot be deported from the U.S.
Citizenship is the highest immigration benefit conferred by USCIS. As a result USCIS conducts a thorough background investigation on each applicant. It is important to provide USCIS with all information requested and be completely candid throughout the process.
With the application for naturalization the applicant must provide the following documentation:
- Copy of lawful permanent resident card;
- Two passport-sized photographs;
- Appropriate application for testing exemption;
- Criminal history documentation;
- Proof of child support payments;
- Proof of any Federal of State tax payments;
The aforementioned list is not exhaustive. Depending on the applicant’s unique circumstances, more or less documentation may be required.
10 Steps to Naturalization| USCIS —Here you can find USCIS “10 Step Guide to Naturalization”. USCIS provides a general explanation of the Naturalization process.
Naturalization Information Sessions—USCIS provides free information sessions about naturalization, including the benefits and responsibilities of naturalization.
USCIS Learners- USCIS provides educational resources to help applicants and potential applicants for U.S. citizenship prepare for the naturalization exam.
Find a Lawyer in Houston for Citizenship and Naturalization
The naturalization process can be complex and timely. It is best to consult an experienced attorney to help navigate this process. Kathryn Karam is a Board Certified in Immigration and Nationality Lawyer designated by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.
The Harris County immigration attorneys at The Law Office of Kathryn N. Karam, P.C. represent clients all over the Greater Houston area and are fluent in Spanish, Cantonese, and Mandarin Chinese. We can review your case as soon as you call (832) 582-0620 to set up an initial consultation.