When to consult a lawyer before applying for citizenship
Permanent residents who wish to apply for US citizenship do not always need to hire an attorney. If you have a clean history you may prefer to handle your case on your own, or just have a lawyer review your application for any red flags before filing. However, there are several factors that may interfere with your eligibility to become a citizen, or even lead to deportation if USCIS finds an issue in your case.
Before you get started, review the most common reasons people are not eligible for citizenship, and how a lawyer can help you overcome these issues.
Have you ever been arrested of a crime?If you are arrested, then you must disclose the arrest. Lying on your application allows DHS to deny your application. If you've ever been arrested, talk to an immigration lawyer to see how it will affect your eligibility and status.
Have you ever been convicted of a crime?Most criminal convictions, even if they ended in probation, supervision, or expungement, can result in denial. In fact, a criminal conviction can also lead to detention and deportation. The USCIS requires a certified copy of the court order that result in conviction or dismissal. Otherwise, the USCIS can not only deny, but may do their own research and refer the matter to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE) and file a complaint for removal and deportation.
The type of conviction and the conviction date plays a role in whether a potential applicant should file for naturalization. If there is a conviction, even for DUI, a potential naturalization applicant should seek legal advice from an experienced immigration and visa attorney.
Have I ever registered to vote for U.S state or national elections?Falsely representing yourself to be a U.S. citizen in order to register to vote is a deportable offense. It does not matter if you were persuaded by someone who mistakenly encouraged you to register, but there are some exceptions. If a mistake was made, avoid filing for naturalization and seek the advice of an experienced immigration attorney.
Have I ever served on a jury in the the US?Some foreigners are mistakenly sent notices to serve on a jury in the United States, but you must be a US citizen to serve on a jury.
The decision to serve on a US Jury, even if by mistake can create grounds for deportation. If you accidentally receive a letter to serve on a jury, immediately contact the courts and tell them that you cannot serve unless you have a US citizenship or naturalization certificate.
Can I take the oath of allegiance?There are some lawful permanent residents who are unable to swear allegiance to the United States and consent to the possibility that they may be asked to serve in the US. Armed Services, usually because of their religious beliefs. If you have concerns about swearing the oath, talk to an immigration attorney about possible exceptions.
Have I already derived US citizenship through my parents?Some applicants have actually derived U.S. Citizenship before they turned eighteen years old. This can happen even if they have a lawful permanent resident card. This means that they must file a different USCIS form. If they file the wrong form, they can lose upwards of $675 in filing fees.
Derivative U.S. Citizenship, if it exists, can prevent the U.S. Government from deporting a green card holder. If in doubt, you should schedule an appointment or teleconference with an experienced immigration and naturalization attorney.