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Naturalization general requirements (Citizenship)

You should have had a green card for five years. There are some exceptions; usually for military and marriage green cards You should have some English proficiency and knowledge about our government. You should have good moral character. Child support, Arrests, Taxes, Membership in certain organizations, Caught lying on a immigration form and other things can affect the hearing officers decision. You should not have any significant allegiance issues. There may be some exemptions for not swearing allegiance, bearing arms to our country. Usually for bonafide religious reasons, and proper documentation is critical. You should not have any "dormant" unaddressed immigration issues. Some people who have applied not only were not approved but, they wound up in removal proceedings instead due to something in their past which the examination, and the heightened scrutiny that it brings uncovered

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You should have had a green card for five years.

Generally, you should have a green card for five years before applying to become a Citizen. There are some exceptions to this rule such as: Members of the Military, Green card holders through marriage. You don't have to be physically present in the United States for five years straight but, long term absences abroad may affect your benefits. The usual two week vacation abroad is not much of an issue. Being out of the country for more than six months can be an issue. Please keep in mind that a long term absence from the country, while being a green card holder, can create a presumption that you have relinquished your residency in this country. Not only denying you Citizenship but, also your green card as well.

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You should have some English proficiency and knowledge about our government.

There are some exemptions to the list below depending on your age, the length of time you have been a permanent residence, and/or any disabilities that you may have. But in general: There will be an examination in English. You may be asked to write a simple English sentence. The examiner will go over the questions on the application with you in English and will be evaluating your English proficiency throughout the entire interview. The questions relate to how our government works and some United States Citizens would probably fail the exam without studying for it. The questions are readily available online with a Google or similar search. You are allowed to bring an Attorney with you but, not required.

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You should have good moral character.

Generally they go back five years to determine your moral character. There are some issues that last longer than five years. There are questions in the form which are designed to elicit information about your moral character. In general: arrests, unpaid taxes, unpaid child support, convictions, caught lying on the form, count against you and can contribute to a finding of lack of good moral character, thus, denying you a favorable outcome on your citizenship application. This is not a comprehensive list and the examiner has wide latitude on this. Some convictions in and of themselves are disqualifying. Sometimes it is more of a "totality of the circumstances" which might lead the examiner to conclude you lack moral character. There is a certain amount of subjectivity and discretion built into the process.

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You should not have any significant allegiance issues.

There are a series of questions on the application which are designed to elicit your allegiance to our country. They ask things like will you bear arms to defend our country. Will you take an Oath of Allegiance. Not every question has to be answered in the affirmative. But, if they are not, you should have a well documented reason why the answer is no. Some reasons may be disqualifying others are not. Should you start answering "no" to these series of questions then significant analysis should be done by your Attorney to see whether or not you are still eligible to naturalize. There is a religious exemption for swearing an oath, but, it is limited and must be properly documented. Along with any other exemption that you feel you may qualify for.

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You should not have any "dormant" unaddressed immigration issues.

Generally this is the last step in the immigration process. Do not be surprised if they look at your entire file during the examination and interview. If there have been some questionable things which had occurred when you first got a immigration benefit then this will not only affect your naturalization application but, also you can be put in removal proceedings. ALSO: Men who where residents in this country between the ages of 18 to 25 should have registered for selective service. If you did not that would create a problem which would need to be addressed. This rule does NOT apply to women. The examiner will be looking for immigration fraud and any sort of falsified documents, lying to obtain an immigration benefit, or anything else that would make you ineligible to be a immigrant and thus, a United States Citizen. Not everyone should apply to become a United States Citizen. Consult an Attorney first if you have any concerns.

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Should you apply to become a Naturalized Citizen?

Not everyone should apply for naturalization. If you have a squeaky clean record, no history of affiliation with Nazi, Communist or Terrorist parties, have been here the required amount of time without significant breaks, no tax issues or child support issues, can readily answer yes to all questions regarding allegiance to our country, have no problem with studying for the Civics exam and speak English reasonably well and are absolutely sure you have no dormant immigration issues. Then you are a good candidate to apply. All other people should see an Attorney first before filing an application. Some attorneys, like myself, not only provide a thorough screening to ensure you are eligible for the benefit but, also, if it is determined that you are not a good candidate to apply at this time then I will set up a individual plan with you to try to get you ready to apply in the future when it is more likely that you would be approved. Attorney Alejandro Rivera, 407 301-5822