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Posted on in Immigration

Darien, CT U.S. citizenship attorneyIn a previous post, we explained four benefits of U.S. citizenship. Here are four more benefits of taking the next step beyond lawful permanent resident (LPR) status to become a naturalized citizen

1. Gain Access to Federal Government Jobs

Agencies of the U.S. federal government (excluding the Postal Service) employ roughly 1.8 million full-time civilian workers throughout the country. Most federal government jobs require U.S. citizenship. 

Are you wondering if an LPR can serve in the United States military? The answer is yes, but opportunities may be limited due to security clearance requirements. 

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Darien CT immigration citizenship attorneyU.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has been dealing with a record number of applications for U.S. citizenship by naturalization during the past few years. As a result, it is taking much longer for naturalization applications to be processed.

Growing Demand for U.S. Naturalization

The annual number of applications for naturalization received by USCIS rose from 783,000 in fiscal year 2015 to nearly one million in FY 2017, a 25 percent increase. Final figures are not yet available for FY 2018 (the 12 months ending on October 8, 2018). The first week of October marks the end of each USCIS fiscal year.

As a result of this increased demand for naturalization, it took an average of 10.2 months for an application for naturalization to be processed in FY 2018. This is nearly double the average processing time of 5.2 months reported in FY 2014.

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Stamford citizenship naturalization attorneyIf you have recently become a naturalized U.S. citizen, there are several steps you should take within a month or two of receiving your Certificate of Naturalization. 

Update Social Security With Your Citizenship Status

You should already have a Social Security number and card, because these are required to work in the U.S. When a lawful permanent resident (LPR) becomes a naturalized citizen, you must inform the Social Security Administration (SSA) of this change in status. To do this, take your Certificate of Naturalization to the nearest SSA office. It is recommended that you wait about two weeks after naturalization to do this.

There are several reasons why it is important to update your Social Security record. First, if you changed your name at your naturalization ceremony, you must officially inform the SSA of your name change. This is necessary to ensure that all of your employment records under different names remain linked together. 

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Westchester County NY citizenship and naturalization lawyerMost people assume that a naturalized citizen of the United States has the same rights and permanent status as a citizen by birth. In most cases, that is true. However, there are some situations in which a naturalized citizen can be denaturalized and deported from the country. 

Grounds for Revocation of Naturalized Citizenship

According to section 340 of the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act, there are four situations in which a person’s naturalized citizenship may be revoked: 

1. Person concealed or willfully misrepresented a material fact. 

Put simply, this means that a person deliberately lied or withheld information on their application or in their interview for naturalization, and USCIS found out about it later. The lie must involve a “material fact,” meaning that the information could have influenced the USCIS decision on naturalization.

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New Canaan citizenship attorneyMany immigrants arrive in the U.S. with limited formal education. Other immigrants arrive with multiple degrees but are not fully fluent in speaking, reading, and writing English. Still others are well-educated and fluent in English but are age 50, 60, or older and have not had to memorize information for a test in many years. Any of these situations can leave an immigrant nervous about passing the English and civics tests necessary to qualify for U.S. citizenship by naturalization

If you are at all nervous about these particular requirements, you need not be. The tests are actually quite simple, and study aids are readily available to help you prepare. Some applicants may even be exempt from these requirements.

Exemptions From Test Requirements

You do not need to take the English test, but must take the civics test in the language of your choice if:

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New Canaan naturalization lawyerAfter overcoming many hurdles to achieve your status as a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) of the United States and accumulating the required time—usually five years, you may be interested in applying for U.S. citizenship by naturalization. This can be a difficult step for some people, as it means giving up your loyalty to your old country in order to take up your new role as an American citizen. However, it is necessary if you want to enjoy all of the benefits of citizenship, such as freedom from the risk of deportation in all but the rarest of circumstances. 

If you are planning to become a U.S. citizen, there is just one more step to take before contacting an immigration lawyer and preparing your application for naturalization. You must make sure there are no remaining barriers that could cause your application for naturalization to be denied.

Checklist: 10 Reasons Naturalization Could Be Denied 

  1. Being unable to speak, read, and write basic English, unless you qualify for an age or disability exception.
  2. Being unable to demonstrate required knowledge of American civics, unless you qualify for a disability exception.
  3. Being unwilling to take the Oath of Allegiance to the United States. To become a citizen, you must renounce your allegiance to any other nation and swear your sole loyalty to the USA. You must also promise to support and defend the Constitution and the laws of the United States and to serve the country in military or non-military service when required.
  4. Failing to continuously maintain a permanent residence in the US for the required minimum time period (usually five years) since obtaining Lawful Permanent Resident status. This includes:
    • Taking a trip out of the U.S. that lasted for more than six months (more than 181 days) but less than one year (less than 365 days) and not being able to provide proof that the U.S. remained your permanent residence during that time.
    • Taking a trip out of the U.S. that lasted for one year or more since becoming a Lawful Permanent Resident and not meeting USCIS requirements for maintaining LPR status.
  5. Failing to meet the standard of “good moral character” during the required period of permanent residence. USCIS may also, at its discretion, consider your conduct prior to becoming a LPR. In addition to USCIS review of information provided on your application, the FBI will run your name and fingerprints against law enforcement databases. The definition of good moral character specifically excludes these categories of people (partial list):
    • Habitual drunkards
    • People who are currently on parole, probation, or suspended sentence for a criminal offense
    • People who have been incarcerated for 180 days or more
    • People who have admitted to or been convicted of prostitution or drug trafficking (other than a single offense of simple possession of 30 grams or less of marijuana)
    • People who have at any time in their life been convicted of an aggravated felony, such as murder, rape, child pornography, or another crime for which the court imposed a sentence of imprisonment for one year or more
  6. Failing to file a U.S. tax return and pay federal taxes owed. Certified copies of your tax returns for each year of the required LPR period must be provided as part of your application for naturalization.
  7. Failing to financially support your minor children who do not live with you.
  8. Failing to register with the Selective Service System if you are a male who lived in the U.S. during ages 18 to 25.
  9. Being a member of or associated with any totalitarian political party or terrorist organization.
  10. Committing immigration fraud; that is, willfully misrepresenting or concealing a material fact in order to obtain an immigration benefit. Examples of immigration fraud include:
    • Lying or omitting material facts on both written applications and oral interviews related to immigration
    • Entering into a fraudulent marriage
    • Falsely claiming US citizenship on an I-9 form to obtain employment

Consult a Stamford, CT Naturalization Attorney

When you are ready to take your final step toward citizenship and apply for naturalization, consult an experienced Fairfield County citizenship and naturalization lawyer. Gonzalez Law Office, LLC will review all possible barriers to your naturalization with you to ensure that your path to citizenship is as smooth as possible. Contact us at 203-323-1440. 

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Darien, CT naturalization attorneyIf you immigrated to the United States in the past year or two, you may not have given any thought to the naturalization process yet. You may not even be sure if you want to become a naturalized citizen of the United States. 

You have some time to decide. Under current laws, you must be a lawful permanent resident (LPR) of the U.S. (that is, a green card holder) for five years before you can apply for citizenship through naturalization, or three years if you are married to a U.S. citizen. 

Still, you should understand the benefits of becoming a U.S. citizen. Once you understand these benefits, you may want to pursue naturalization sooner rather than later.

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