Naturalization Attorneys in Hollywood Assisting Clients Who Want to Apply for Citizenship
If you are considering immigrating to the United States for the purpose of eventually gaining citizenship or you’re already here as a permanent resident and want to take the next step, naturalization can offer a path forward. However, it’s also a time-consuming and sometimes confusing path, and working with an immigration attorney can ensure that you understand what’s required of you, what becoming a naturalized citizen entails, and what you need to do to prepare. Get the answers to these questions and more below.
If you’re not sure if naturalization is the right path for you, the legal team at Magilligan Law can help. Our attorneys have helped countless clients successfully apply for and be granted naturalization, and we’re uniquely suited to guide clients through this process. We can help you understand if you’re eligible — and what your options are if you’re not — and be there to answer questions and assist if you have any issues or challenges along the way.
What Does Becoming a Naturalized Citizen Mean?
Naturalization is a process where someone who is born outside of a country and does not have citizenship through birth or other means can become a citizen. Once you are a naturalized citizen, you have the same rights and benefits that a natural-born citizen would have, including being able to vote in federal elections. Becoming a naturalized citizen also means that you are committing to being a positive part of the United States. You’re expected to be a law-abiding and productive member of society who is able to support the community and work toward a better America.
Many people want to pursue naturalization because a naturalized citizen has more options to sponsor family members to come to the United States than Green Card holders. And while this is one of the major benefits of gaining citizenship, it’s important to ensure that you understand all of the other commitments and responsibilities that come up with citizenship and that you truly want to make the United States your new permanent home.
Who Can Apply for Naturalization?
To apply for naturalization, you generally have to meet age and continuous residence requirements, be of good moral character, show proficiency in English and basic American civics knowledge, and take the oath of allegiance. Those who apply for naturalization on the basis of serving in the U.S. Armed Forces have more relaxed time requirements for how long they must be a permanent resident before applying for naturalization and their time of continuous residence.
Those who are not using military service to gain citizenship must be at least 18 years old and a permanent resident for 5 years before they can apply for naturalization. This time period can be lowered to 3 years if you are married to a U.S. citizen. You must also have maintained a continuous residence in the United States during that time, but you are allowed to take trips outside of the United States as long as they are less than 6 months long. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office defines continuous residence as “the applicant maintaining a permanent dwelling place in the United States … [that is] the same as that alien’s domicile, or principal actual dwelling place, without regard to the alien’s intent.”
How Long Does It Take to Become a Naturalized Citizen?
Becoming a naturalized citizen isn’t a quick process. It can take several months or even years to meet the requirements to be a Green Card holder, and then you still have to wait the 3 or 5 years before you can apply for naturalization. Once you submit your application, there is also normally a lengthy wait time for it to be processed.
How long Form N-400 takes to process depends on your location because each field office has its own processing times, but you can find the current averages on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website. For example, as of June 2023, the current average processing time for naturalization applications at the Miami, Florida, field office was 9 months. This means that 80 percent of the applications that are processed through that office are handled within that timeframe, so some may be longer.
Once your application is processed — and hopefully approved — you will still need to schedule and attend your interview and Oath of Allegiance ceremony.
What Happens If My Naturalization Application Is Denied?
Going through this long process only to receive notification that your application for naturalization has been denied can be heartbreaking. But it’s important to stay calm and understand your options. In some cases, you may be able to appeal the decision by requesting a hearing before a different immigration officer. At this hearing, you have the opportunity to address any legal reasons why your application was denied for. Sometimes, this is just providing additional documentation to verify that you should have been eligible for naturalization, but in other cases, it can be much more complicated.
When you get a notice of denial, your first call should be to an experienced immigration attorney who can go over the paperwork and advise you of your options. An attorney can also be present and represent you at the hearing before immigration services.
If you’re interested in naturalization or you’ve already started the process but have questions, contact Magilligan Law at 954-866-8058. Whether you’re not sure what documentation needs to be included, are worried about the citizenship test, or have been denied and need to find out what’s next, our attorneys are here to help. Our office is conveniently located in Hollywood, Florida, and we serve clients in Broward County and the surrounding areas. Call our office today to schedule a case evaluation to get started.