Basic steps when filing for U.S. Citizenship
By: Leslie Palomera
In this article, we will share the basic steps needed to file for naturalization, also known as filing for citizenship. This is a great tool to begin the process, but we recommend you always consult with a professional before filing your citizenship application. It’s important you meet all the requirements because every situation is different. Many times, we have found applicants who thought they were eligible to file but didn’t qualify for different reasons. Some applicants could even end up losing their Legal Resident Status if they don’t consult with a professional prior to filing their application. All that being said, let’s move on to the requirements:
Steps and Questions to Answer
First, are you at least 18 years old (except active members of the Armed Forces)?
Have you been a permanent resident of the United States for a required period of time (either 3 or 5 years, depending on your case)?
Have you lived within the state or USCIS district where you claim residence for at least 3 months prior to filing? If you just moved states, you need to wait at least 3 months to file at your new address.
Can you demonstrate physical presence within the United States for a required period of time of 3 or 5 years (depending on your case)?
Have you demonstrated continuous residence for a required period of time (again, 3 or 5 years, depending on your case)?
Can you demonstrate good moral character? This means, have you ever been arrested, cited, detained? If so, how long ago? What were the charges? What were the results?
Can you demonstrate a basic knowledge of U.S. history and government?
Can you demonstrate the ability to read, write, speak and understand basic English?
And, last but not least, are you able to take an Oath of Allegiance to the United States? Keep in mind that some applicants may be eligible for a modified oath based on their beliefs/religion.
The fee to file for naturalization is $725.00, but if you can prove that you have a low income, there is a fee waiver form that you can include with your petition to get your fee reduced or even completely waived.
Do you have a learning or mental disability? You might qualify for a Medical Exception to your interview and/or test.
Are your parents U.S. citizens? You might qualify to derive or acquired citizenship through them without having to go for an interview and test. Consult with an immigration expert.
If you meet these requirements, congratulations!
You are ready to make an appointment with an immigration expert to assess your case, and assist you in filling out your application.
If you need studying material, look at the USCIS official website for help, https://www.uscis.gov/citizenship/learners/study-test. Also, you can reach out to various places in your community for resources, many non-profits, public libraries, community centers, and other similar places offer free or reduced fee classes to prepare you for the interview.
Remember, you are not required to have an attorney to file for citizenship, but applicants usually choose to seek assistance from a lawyer or accredited representatives to review their records and ensure better results.
Here at Ybarra Maldonado & Associates, we know the legal process can be burdensome or intimidating so we focus on facilitating the experience for our families to ensure they know how to proceed through each step of the process. To schedule an appointment with me or one of our amazing attorneys located in Arizona, please call 602-910-4040 or another reputable law firm in your area.