For many immigrants, citizenship is the ultimate goal. Becoming a citizen of the United States through naturalization may be a dream of yours, but the process is not an easy one. To be sure, naturalization requires satisfying multiple requirements set forth in the Immigration and Nationality Act, and can be a difficult and complex undertaking. At Ozment Law, PLC, our Tennessee naturalization attorneys can help you to understand the naturalization process and how to obtain citizenship through naturalization. We have helped hundreds of individuals and families in Nashville and all over Tennessee achieve their dreams of U.S. citizenship, and we understand how important becoming a U.S. citizen is to you and your family. Call us today to learn more about how we can help.
According to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, an individual may qualify for naturalization if:
- They have been a permanent resident of the United States for at least five years;
- They are a spouse of United States’ citizen and have been a resident of the United States for at least three years;
- They have served in the United States’ armed forces; or
- They are a child of a United States citizen, but were born outside of the United States.
In addition to the above, all other eligibility requirements must be satisfied. Among other things, this includes living within the United States, being able to read, write, and speak English, and being of good moral character. In general, to apply to become a U.S. citizen, you must:
- Meet the residency requirements above.
- Be 18 years of age or older.
- Be a “person of good moral character.” This means if you have any type of criminal record, you need to consult with our attorneys instead of attempting naturalization by yourself. We may be able to find ways to prove your moral character, despite any convictions you have.
- Read, write and speak English, depending on the immigrant’s age (if applicable). We encourage all immigrants to learn English, especially those seeking citizenship.
- Have a basic understanding of U.S. government, history and civics. You will be tested on these subjects.
- Understand and agree with the U.S. Constitution.
Our lawyers and case managers will guide you, step by step, through the naturalization process, including the filing of the required Form N-400. We have even assisted clients in getting special permission to not have to take the English and civics tests based on age and disability. If you are ready to become a citizen but are afraid of the English and U.S. government tests, we may be able to help, depending on your specific situation.
Your pathway to citizenship is dependent upon your status in the United States. Are you a spouse or child of a U.S. citizen? A member of the armed forces? If so, your path to citizenship may be different from those who are living in the United States and does not fit these descriptions. Our attorneys can help you to understand which path is appropriate for your circumstances.
Many of our clients are anxious about the English and civics tests. Typically, this is a three-part test that includes an interview, English test, and civics test, all of which are conducted in English. The English test consists of three parts: speaking, reading, and writing. However, we have successfully assisted clients avoid having to take the English and civics tests—and have had some clients be able to complete the tests in their native languages—based on age, hardship, illness, or disability.
If you do not pass the naturalization test, you can retake the test between 60 and 90 days from the date of your initial interview. Applicants for citizenship are usually given two opportunities to pass the test.
If the lengthy naturalization forms are accepted and the interview is successful, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will schedule you for an oath ceremony—the final step to becoming a citizen of the United States. At the ceremony, you will have the opportunity to make any needed changes to your application (you should consult an attorney right away if anything changes while your application is pending or even after it has been approved), and you will be given your Certificate of Naturalization and take the Oath of Allegiance. The Oath is a tradition dating back more than 220 years wherein the new citizen promises to support the U.S. Constitution and our laws.
What if Naturalization is Denied?
Sometimes the immigration service denies a naturalization application that should have been approved. Sometimes denials are because of criminal or “moral character” issues, but sometimes they are just because the applicant did not completely understand a question during the interview. There are many ways an application could be denied. However, naturalization applicants have several protections available to them. An appeal may be possible, depending on when your naturalization was denied. Therefore, it is important to act quickly. Even if you have lost an appeal (sometimes called Form N-336, Request for Hearing on a Decision in Naturalization Proceedings), you may still be able to file a lawsuit against the government to force it to grant your naturalization. Consult with our attorneys as soon as possible for an honest evaluation of your case.
Who Does Not Need to Apply for Naturalization?
Occasionally, after consulting with us, clients discover they are actually already U.S. citizens by birth or through family relationships. Whether a person “acquired” or “derived” citizenship through a relative (usually a parent, grandparent, or even great-grandparent) is complicated, and our attorneys are equipped to determine whether we can save your family time and money in avoiding the immigration process by discovering that you are actually already a U.S. citizen. If we believe you are already a citizen, you do not have to apply for naturalization. Instead, we can help you prove that you are already a citizen (such as through family records, government records, and DNA testing) and assist with filing a Form N-600, Application for Certificate of Citizenship. If successful, you will receive a Certificate of Citizenship that proves that you are a U.S. citizen, allowing you to travel, work, and live with complete freedom and peace of mind.
Applying for naturalization is both an intimidating and exciting process, and our lawyers want to help you get your application right the first time so that you can become a citizen of the United States of America as soon as possible. We know that you may have dozens of questions about the process and eligibility; we are here to answer all of your questions and provide you with legal guidance. We can manage your application on your behalf, including gathering and organizing all relevant documents. We can also direct you to resources to help you prepare for your interview and study for the naturalization (English and civics) tests.
It is important to answer all questions on the naturalization application completely truthfully. The government has taken away naturalized citizens’ citizenship if it discovers that there were misrepresentations either during the application process or during the interview. An immigration attorney can help prepare you for the interview and can help with questions you are unsure about. With proper preparation and assistance, obtaining U.S. citizenship can be a joyful and rewarding experience. We are thrilled when we see our clients take their Oaths of Allegiance and officially become U.S. citizens!
To learn more about naturalization and how our Tennessee immigration lawyers can help, please call us today or send us a message to request a case review. We will work hard for you to help you achieve your goals.