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630-932-9100
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Citizenship Requirements Still the Same: Should You Apply?

Posted on in Immigration
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immigration law, naturalization, Chicago naturalization attorneys, immigration services, green card holderDespite the significant movement in the field of immigration law since the new administration has taken office, there are some factors that remain the same. One of those is the requirements to become a U.S. citizen—the same criteria exists as it has always been, at least as of this writing. If you are intending to apply for naturalization, it may be a good idea to do so in the near future, though refreshing yourself on what is required is recommended first.

Presence and Character Requirements

United States Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) lists specific criteria that a person must meet in order to be considered for naturalization. Most of the time, that includes having been a lawful permanent resident, commonly called a green card holder, for a period of time (usually three or five years, depending on the circumstances), and being physically present in the country for at least 30 months out of that five-year span. Military service members may be able to apply for naturalization in a shorter period of time, depending on the nature and quality of their service, but that is the exception, rather than the rule.

Other requirements besides the green card rule and the physical presence include:

  • Being over the age of 18 at the time of application;
  • Being able to show continuous U.S. residence for at least five years during your status as a lawful permanent resident;
  • Being able to read, write, and speak English to a manageable degree;
  • Having an understanding of U.S. government and civics; and
  • Being a person of “good moral character,” who is “attached to Constitutional principles.”

The last requirement is somewhat amorphous, but it has been interpreted generally to mean that you agree to abide by and defend the principles contained in the U.S. Constitution, and the government that stems from them.

Allow More Time for Processing

While the overall requirements to apply for naturalization have not changed, it is worth noting that processing times for citizenship applications may be longer than average for the near future. Recently, the National Partnership for New Americans (NPNA) released USCIS data that indicate approximately a 32.1 percent increase in naturalization applications between the end of FY 2015 and the end of FY 2016, with some states reporting an increase as high as 54 percent over the amount of applications in the previous year’s quarter.

Multiple reasons for this increase are plausible. Many have expressed a wish to become citizens to protect themselves from potentially punitive immigration directives that may come out of the current administration. Others have stated a wish to be U.S. citizens in time to vote in 2018’s midterm elections. Whatever the reason, it is adversely affecting processing times for naturalization. Therefore, it is important that you keep abreast of developments, especially if you are in legal status but it is close to expiration.

Consult a Knowledgeable Attorney

Becoming a U.S. citizen through naturalization is very often the culmination of years of work, sometimes at great personal cost. While the requirements to do so are still the same as of this writing, this administration has shown itself open to making modifications on the fly. Having an experienced attorney to discuss your case with can help smooth out the process for you. The Chicago naturalization attorneys at Mevorah Law Offices LLC are ready, willing, and able to assist you with any questions you might have. Contact us today to set up a free consultation.

Sources:

https://www.uscis.gov/us-citizenship/citizenship-through-naturalization/path-us-citizenship

http://partnershipfornewamericans.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/NPNA-Fact-Sheet-Naturalization-Data-Sept-2016-Final.pdf

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