Becoming a citizen of the United States is the ultimate goal for many immigrants. There are many benefits that accompany citizenship, most importantly, the right to vote. Some other benefits may also include access to certain jobs, the right to hold public office (although not the Presidency!) and travel internationally without worry of maintaining proper status.
Member of American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) and National Immigration Project (NIP)
As a citizenship attorney, Philip Eichorn is honored to help immigrants through the naturalization process or work to determine they acquired citizenship automatically through their parents. For many individuals, these processes are straightforward. For others, it can be difficult due to lack of documents, criminal history or issues with maintaining the physical presence requirements or the residency requirements. Regardless, laws apply and every applicant's past conduct comes under strict scrutiny.
Whatever your situation, if obtaining citizenship is your ultimate goal please contact our law firm, Hammond Law Group, LLC, to learn how we can represent you in obtaining this goal.
Dedicated, Thorough, Client-Focused
Some permanent residents seeking naturalization run into trouble because they do not understand the basic eligibility requirements. These include:
- Age and status. You must be at least 18 years old and have been a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR or "green card" holder) of the U.S. for at least five years. If you are an LPR and are living in marital union with your U.S. citizen spouse, you may be eligible to file after three years of becoming an LPR.
- Residency. You must reside in the state or district of the service for at least three months prior to filing.
- Physical presence and continuous residence. Immediately prior to applying, you must have been physically present in the U.S. for at least 30 months out of the previous five years and have resided continuously for the same amount of time. If you were absent for more than six months but less than 12 months, you still may be eligible if you can demonstrate that your absence did not amount to an abandonment of your continuous residence. If you've been outside the U.S. for more than one year, then it is very difficult (but no timpossible) to obtain citizenship by naturalization.
- Good moral character. You must demonstrate good moral character during the five years prior to your application, or three years if you are married to a U.S. citizen, or one year if you have served in the military. Good moral character is not just having a clean criminal record but includes registering for Selective Service and filing your taxes.
- English language and civics examinations are necessary to most applicants. There are exceptions depending on your length of time as a permanent resident and age. You may also receive an exemption if there is a medical condition keeping you from learning English or learning the core concepts of this country.
Do You Have a Criminal Record?
If you have a criminal record, DO NOT TRY TO HIDE IT. Many people believe that because a case was expunged or sealed or dismissed, it doesn't count or DHS won't know about it. As a routine part of the naturalization process, all applicants are thoroughly checked by the DHS. This includes fingerprinting, name checking and other background screening for connections to criminals or terrorists in the U.S. or abroad.
DHS can see behind all expungements and all sealings. Further, many 'dismissals' may actually be convictions for immigration purposes. Contact us first and let us determine whether or not you have liability for removal or detention and then determine eligibility for naturalization.
Some foreign nationals become citizens by operation of law based on their facts. For example and pursuant to the Child Citizenship Act of 2000, a child automatically becomes a citizen if he or she is under 18 years of age and becomes a lawful permanent resident and his or her parents are citizens. There are many other laws that pre-date the CCA of 2000 all of which require careful application of your facts to the laws in place at the time the relevant events occurred.
Instead of filing an N-400 and making a motion to USCIS to be admitted as a citizen, an automatic citizen applicant would file an N-600 and prove his or her case accordingly. If you believe this applies to you or a friend or a relative, please call 866-448-2994 or email us today to discuss representation.