NATURALIZATION & CITIZENSHIP


SHORSTEIN, LASNETSKI, & GIHON
helps Lawful Permanent Residents with their
Application for Naturalization
to become U.S. Citizens.

Shorstein, Lasnetski, & Gihon helps lawful permanent residents become U.S. Citizens.  If you are a lawful permanent resident interested in filing an application for naturalization, give us a call and schedule a consultation so we can discuss the process, screen your case for any potential problems, and answer your questions. 
Who is eligible to become a United States Citizen?

You may be eligible to become a United States Citizen if you:
  • are 18 years old or older at the time of filing the Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, 
  • have been a Lawful Permanent Resident for 5 years (or 3 years if are the spouse of a United States Citizen married to and living with your U.S. citizen spouse),
  • have continuously resided in the United States for 5 years (or 3 years if are the spouse of a United States Citizen married to and living with your U.S. citizen spouse),
  • have been physically present in the United States for 30 months (18 months if are the spouse of a United States Citizen married to and living with your U.S. citizen spouse), 
  • have lived in the USCIS district for 3 months, 
  • can establish "good moral character for 5 years (or 3 years if are the spouse of a United States Citizen married to and living with your U.S. citizen spouse),
  • can pass an English reading and writing exam,
  • can pass a civics exam, and 
  • can demonstrate basic English proficiency.  
These are the basic eligibility requirements to become a United States citizen through naturalization.  Of course, there are many other considerations that can not only affect eligibility, but could also lead to being placed in deportation proceedings, including criminal convictions, prior immigration violations, alleged fraud, and more.  You should always consult with an immigration attorney before filing for naturalization.

What if I've spent a lot of time outside the United States?

As a general rule, lawful permanent residents can come and go from the United States at will.  However, in order to qualify for naturalization, you must have been physically present in the United States for the required time mentioned above.  Another consideration, however, is that if you have spent too much time outside the United States or if you took up residence in another country while you had a greencard, you could be considered to have abandoned your lawful permanent residence.  This is important because if you file an application to become a United States citizen and if the government believes you've abandoned your lawful permanent resident status, they could issue you a Notice to Appear and place you in deportation proceedings.  If you have spent a lot of time outside the United States after becoming a Lawful Permanent Resident, you should consult with an experienced Immigration Attorney and ask them to explain "abandonment" as it relates to your situation. 

Can I apply for Naturalization if I have a criminal conviction?

If you are a Lawful Permanent Resident with a criminal conviction, it is extremely important to consult with an experienced immigration lawyer for several reasons.  Some criminal convictions will result in a denial of your application.  Some convictions will make it likely that your application will be denied.  Some convictions may make you deportable and filing an application to naturalize could result in USCIS issuing you a Notice to Appear and placing you in deportation proceedings. 

However, we have helped many lawful permanent residents obtain naturalization, even though they had criminal convictions.  USCIS should not consider criminal offenses that occurred outside the good moral character period.  So, if your criminal offense was 6 years ago, USCIS should not consider it because it would be outside the 5 year good moral character period.  However, if you have any negative factors that have occurred inside the good moral character, USCIS could deny the naturalization application.  For example, if you have speeding tickets inside the good moral character period, USCIS could deny your application stating that you have not been rehabilitated since committing the offense outside the good moral character period.  

The law and the way USCIS handles naturalization applications with criminal offenses is always changing. It is important to talk to an experienced immigration lawyer before filing an application for naturalization. 
What is Good Moral Character and how do I prove I have it?

Good Moral Character is defined in the Immigration and Nationality Act under section 101(f).  Some factors that affect good moral character are filing and paying taxes, paying child support, registering for selective service, employment, ties to the United States, and more.  Typically, if you do not have a criminal offense or any other negative factor, you will be able to establish good moral character.  

Certain convictions forever bar a person from obtaining naturalization.  Some convictions bar a person from obtaining naturalization for five years (or three years if married to and living with a United States citizen spouse).  

Automatic Permanent Bars
Any person with a murder conviction or aggravated felony conviction (obtained after 11/29/1990) is forever barred from obtaining naturalization.

Automatic Temporary Bars
Any person who has committed any of the following offense will be barred from naturalizing for five years (or 3 years if married to and living with a United States citizen). 
  • Prostitution and commercialized vice
  • Alien smuggling
  • A crime involving moral turpitude
  • Drug Offense (except one single possession of less than 30 grams of marijuana)
  • Multiple crimes with a total sentence of 5 years or more
  • Two or more gambling offenses
  • False testimony to obtain an immigration benefit
  • Offense where sentenced to 180 days in jail or more

What do I have to do to pass the English and civics exams?

You will need to study a list of 100 words for the English part of the naturalization exam.  A USCIS adjudicator will ask you to read a sentence made up of some of those 100 words.  Then, the adjudicator will ask you to write one sentence made up from a list of 100 words that you have studied.  They cannot ask you to read or write any English words that were not listed on the study materials that are provided by USCIS.  

The civics exam consists of 10 questions about United States history and civics taken from a list of 100 questions.  The USCIS adjudicator will ask you up to 10 of those 100 questions.  You will only have to answer 6 of them correctly. 

If you fail either the English or civics exam, you will be scheduled for a second interview where you will get a second chance to pass.  If you fail the second time, you would have to file a new N-400 Application for Naturalization and start the process from the beginning.  
What if USCIS denies my Application for Naturalization?

If your Application for Naturalization is denied, you can file an I-290B, Notice of Appeal or Motion.  You would be scheduled for another interview before a different USCIS adjudicator who would review your application with fresh eyes.  You do have to pay an additional filing fee to submit the I-290B.
What if I filed an Application for Naturalization and USCIS won't make a decision?

If you have already filed your application for naturalization and USCIS has not scheduled you for an interview or you have already had an interview and they have not approved or denied your application within 120 days, you may have to file a lawsuit against USCIS in federal court.  USCIS has routinely refused to decide on certain cases.  These people are simply left in the dark with naturalization applications that remain pending well after the normal processing time.  In many of those cases, the person has opted to file a federal lawsuit against USCIS.  Most of those cases result in USCIS finally making a decision on the Naturalization application.  So, if you have a naturalization application that has been pending for longer than USCIS' normal processing time, you should consult with an attorney who has filed a Mandamus action in federal court requesting a federal judge to order USCIS to make a decision. 

If you would like to become a United States Citizen, call Shorstein, Lasnetski & Gihon.  

We can help you through the entire application and interview process.  There are many advantages to becoming a U.S. citizen.  For example, citizenship can increase your employment opportunities, ease your ability to travel abroad, protect you from deportation, and increase the ability and/or decrease the time it takes to bring family members to the United States.


Call 
Shorstein, Lasnetski, & Gihon
to help you become a United States Citizen:

904-642-3332 (Jacksonville)

or

407-228-2019 (Orlando). 


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