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If you have been a lawful permanent resident in the United States for a while, you may now be interested in becoming a U.S. citizen. There are numerous benefits to becoming a citizen, including full participation in the democratic process. Unlike a green card, citizenship never expires. The process of becoming a citizen is called naturalization.
If you are seeking to become a citizen, an immigration attorney can assist you to make sure the process goes as smoothly as possible. It is also helpful to retain an attorney so that you avoid any mistakes that could lead to your application being rejected. At Skinner Law Firm our naturalization lawyers help lawful permanent residents become U.S. citizens. Call us today at (610) 436-1410 to schedule a consultation.
Based in West Chester, Pennsylvania we serve those in the Philadelphia region, including Berks, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Lancaster, Montgomery, and York Counties. We represent individuals before Immigration Courts in Philadelphia, York and beyond.
To become a U.S. citizen you must first be over 18 years old and be a lawful permanent resident – meaning you have a green card. In most circumstances, you must also meet the following:
Certain rules apply to any period of absence away from the United States. Any absence of more than one year has serious consequences and may result in you having to start the 5-year residency requirement over again. However, absence as a result of working abroad for the United States government may be overcome. Similarly, residency requirements may be overcome if you are (or were) in the U.S. military – including the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force or Coast Guard – during active duty.
It is always important to retain an immigration attorney to see if you meet all the qualifications for citizenship.
To become a citizen you must be a person of “good moral character.” Criminal records are a significant factor in this consideration. Any person convicted of murder or an aggravated felony cannot be a person of good moral character and will have his or her application for naturalization denied. In addition, an individual cannot be a person of good moral character if he or she is deemed to be any of the following:
The above list in not exclusive. In some circumstances, an applicant can demonstrate rehabilitation or extenuating circumstances to overcome a negative finding of moral turpitude. In making a determination of good moral character the government can also look back many years. Even events or convictions that happened decades ago can still have an effect on your citizenship.
Certain criminal offenses such as DUI, simple possession of marijuana, and traffic offenses are unlikely to lead to denial of citizenship if properly disclosed. The most important step is disclosure. Failure to properly disclose this information, even if by mistake, could result in your application being rejected. The conditions to overcome any type of criminal record or “good moral character” issues highlights the importance of having an immigration attorney advise you through the process.
To become a United States citizen you must pass a language and civics test. There are multiple exceptions to these two requirements. An attorney can assist you to see if you qualify for one of these exceptions. For example, if you have resided in the United States for over twenty years and are eligible for naturalization, the requirements of English proficiency may not apply.
The language test consists of three ways to demonstrate proficiency in the English language: Speaking, reading and writing. During the language test, you will be required to demonstrate each of these skills.
The civics test is basically a test of knowledge about the U.S. government and U.S. history. The questions may include topics such as famous Americans, constitutional rights, important historical dates, and voting requirements for citizens and political branches. There are many tools available to help you to study and conquer these subject areas.
If you seek to become a citizen, an immigration lawyer can help you avoid pitfalls that could lead to costly delays or rejection. At Skinner Law Firm we are proud to assist lawful permanent residents throughout the Philadelphia region take this final step. Contact our West Chester naturalization lawyer today at (610) 436-1410 to schedule a consultation.