If you are a green card holder or lawful permanent resident, you can apply for U.S. citizenship through naturalization. It’s easy to be intimidated, however, by the complexity of the U.S. immigration process. A Tampa FL citizenship and naturalization lawyer can guide you through the legal system, and ensure that you avoid costly mistakes along the way.
At Little Law, P.A., we have helped many green card holders apply for citizenship and enjoy the full benefits of becoming a full U.S. citizen. To learn more about how we can help you on your immigration journey, contact us today.
What Are the Benefits of Becoming a U.S. Citizen?
While green card holders have certain rights under the law, and can live and work in the United States, U.S. citizens have many more rights. Some of the benefits you will enjoy include the following:
You Can Leave and Return With No Restrictions
If you’re a green card holder, you may be able to travel and return to the U.S., but you cannot remain overseas indefinitely and then come back. Nor can you set up residency in another country and then return. The U.S. government can revoke your green card if you have not been living in the United States for a certain period of time. Green card holders can be barred from re-entering the U.S.
U.S. citizens, on the other hand, don’t lose their citizenship simply because they’ve left the country regardless of how long they intend to stay overseas.
It’s Much More Difficult to Deport a U.S. Citizen
Green card holders can be deported for failing to notify the USCIS of a change of address. In addition, certain crimes are grounds for deportation as well. These generally involve crimes of moral turpitude or aggravated felonies. Moral turpitude includes vice crimes like prostitution or drug abuse. The crime must be punishable by more than one year or there must be two or more crimes of moral turpitude. Aggravated felonies generally include violent crime or crimes that put others in immediate danger.
U.S. citizens, however, are not deportable unless they commit some act of open rebellion against the United States government or provided fraudulent information during the green card or citizenship application process.
A U.S. citizen who is charged with a crime will be sent to prison or jail or otherwise be forced to make restitution to the state or the aggrieved party.
Political Benefits of U.S. Citizenship
Not only are U.S. citizens allowed to vote while green card holders cannot, they can also run for public office. U.S. citizens also have preferred status when it comes to bringing over relatives from other countries.
Becoming a U.S. Citizen Through the Naturalization Process
Those born in the United States are automatically considered U.S. citizens (known as birthright citizenship). Those who have immigrated to the U.S., however, can apply for U.S. citizenship through the naturalization process. In order to apply, you must:
- Be a green card holder in good standing for the past five years;
- Be 18 years old;
- Have physically been in the U.S. for at least 30 months during your five years as a green card holder;
- Submit an application for naturalization;
- Remain in the U.S. during the entire process of naturalization;
- Submit to a background check;
- Complete an interview;
- Take a test concerning U.S. civics, history, and politics;
- Be in good standing and show good moral character; and
- Take an oath of allegiance to the United States.
Special conditions apply to those who are married to U.S. citizens and those who are former or active duty service members. The waiting period for spouses is reduced to only three years of green card holder status.
It’s crucial to have the help of an experienced citizenship and naturalization lawyer when submitting your application for U.S. citizenship. Even one mistake can make it seem as though you are trying to deceive immigration officials and therefore delay or impede the process significantly.
What Factors Could Impact Your Citizenship Application?
While your application is impacted by such factors as your age, marital status, and military status, the U.S. immigration authorities who are processing your claim also will conduct a thorough background check on you. Other factors that could hinder you from receiving citizenship include:
- Prior arrests,
- Criminal convictions,
- Failure to register for selective service
- Failure to pay income taxes,
- Unpaid child support or alimony,
- Unpaid debts or judgments against them, or
- Extended periods of time outside the U.S.
While these are certainly matters that can raise concern, they don’t automatically disqualify you from citizenship. A skilled immigration lawyer can help you review your circumstances and help you overcome these obstacles in the naturalization process.
How a Citizenship and Naturalization Lawyer Can Help
Even those who have very little cause for concern may be intimidated by the process of filing for citizenship. There are a number of forms that need to be filled out and you will need to explain any run-ins with the law that may cast your petition in a negative light. Additionally, all of your paperwork must be filed accurately and you must meet any deadlines in a timely fashion. A citizenship and naturalization lawyer can ensure that all of this as done smoothly.
When we file your petition for U.S. citizenship, we ensure that immigration officials see you in the best possible light. This includes drawing attention to your employment record, discussing any volunteer work you do, and showing how your engagement with your community has positively impacted others. Moral character is a key consideration for immigration officials when processing petitions for U.S. citizenship. Throughout the process, we can guide you through excellent choices that will increase the likelihood that your petition will be viewed favorably by immigration authorities.
Talk to a Citizenship and Naturalization Lawyer Today
While naturalization can be a difficult and complex process, the benefits of being a citizen of the United States is definitely worth it. At Little Law, P.A. we can guide you through every step of the citizenship and naturalization process and ensure that you are in compliance with all required filings and appointment dates. Learn more about how we can help by contacting our offices today.