This is the process in which a legal permanent resident applies to become an American citizen.
People have the wrong idea of what the process is currently like. In the past, immigration officers were very strict and even rude during the interviews. The times when officers used blue uniforms and people would faint during the interview are long gone. Nowadays, immigration officers are very friendly and respectful. All legal permanent residents should strongly consider becoming an American citizen to validate their rights but most importantly to avoid a deportation.
Unfortunately, statistics show that legal permanent residents do not become citizens due to procrastination or laziness. Since Donald Trump became president of the United States, legal residents started applying for naturalization out of fear of being deported.
The requirements for naturalization are:
- Be at least 18 years old.
- Being a permanent resident and with proof of that residence in the U.S.
- Have good moral character.
- Being able to speak and write in English.
- Have knowledge of the history and civics of the United States.
If the resident has been married for 3 years and living with an American citizen who has been so for more than 3 years, then the resident can apply for naturalization after 3 years of becoming a resident. All other residents must wait 5 years. The naturalization form is the N-400 which it can be filed 90 days before the arrival of the 3 or 5 year period.
There are people that do not apply for naturalization because they do not speak or write in English. However, this is not a problem anymore.
The law allows applicants to present the exam in Spanish under the following conditions:
- The resident must be over 50 years old, have been a resident for at least 20 years, and have proof of that residence in the U.S.
- If the resident is over 55 years old, only 15 years of being a resident with proof of that residence in the U.S. will be necessary.
- If the resident is over 65 years old and with more than 20 years of being a resident, he may present the exam in Spanish too and an easier version will be conducted (20 questions to study instead of 100).
- For all the cases mentioned, the applicant must present evidence that meets the above requirements.
Furthermore, it is important to mention that the Immigration Office will request in the interview the evidence that he lived in the United States for the required period to be able to do the exam in Spanish. Some valid options are: documents that prove purchase of property, lease agreements, contracts, bills, bank accounts, tax forms, work documents, school documents, etc.
Another reason why a legal permanent resident does not apply for naturalization is because of having criminal problems. The law requests for the resident to have a clean criminal record during the 3-5 years prior to the application for naturalization. If you have been arrested, it is important to review your criminal documents to be able to determine if you are eligible or not. You need to be very careful with cases like these because a serious criminal offense can put a resident in removal proceedings or even out of the United States.
Thus, it is recommended that an experienced U.S. immigration attorney provides you with a professional opinion in this matter.
Attorney Rodriguez invites you to book an appointment to give you more information and a personalized assessment assisting you making a well-informed decision.