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Thinking about joining the country of dreamers and go-getters? While the United States is the home of the American Dream, becoming part of that dream can be a long process. Many immigrants looking to call the United States home are unsure how to apply for citizenship or even what kind of things they need. When you are applying for citizenship to the United States, you will want to be able to prove or show documentation of the following:
You Are a Lawful and Permanent Resident of the United States
The United States is strict in its citizenship process and for good reason. United States citizenship not only grants individuals rights and privileges, but it also brings great responsibility, such as voting for members of the government. The United States Government wants to ensure that its citizens are invested in the welfare of the country and see to forwarding its growth and development. This is why immigrants seeking citizenship in the United States must show proof that they are lawful permanent residents.
What Proof Do I Need?
A lawful permanent resident is defined as an individual who has been granted permission to live in the United States and has been living in the country for a specified amount of time. This period varies depending on what gave the individual the right to move and live in the country.
- If you are living in the United States because you are married to a citizen, then you must live in the U.S. for three years as a lawful permanent resident before you can become a citizen.
- If you came through another channel, such as a green card or work visa, you must live in the U.S. as a lawful permanent resident for five years before applying for citizenship.
To prove that you have been living in the United States, you must show your current place of residence, any past residences in the United States, and (if you were granted permission because of marriage) a marriage license.
You Have Continuous Residence in the United States
In the three to five year period of time that you have been living in the United States, you must not have had an out-of-country trip that lasted more than 6 months, which will disqualify you from applying for citizenship.
How Is That Proven?
The naturalization application will ask questions about any trips you may have taken out of the country, such as:
- How many out-of-country trips longer than 24 hours have you taken in the last five years?
- How many total days did you spend outside of the country?
- List all of the trips, 24 hours or longer, than you have taken outside of the United States during the last five years.
It is extremely important that you are honest in this section. Any dishonesty will result in immediate disapproval of your citizenship application and may disqualify you from seeking future citizenship within the United States.
Exemptions for Continuous Residency Requirement
If an individual is a member of the United States military or was a contractor for the United States government and that job took them outside of the U.S., it will not be counted against them. This is because they were serving the country in these absences.
Need to Prove That You Are of Good Moral Character
An immigration officer, once an individual has applied, will pull an individual’s records to see if there are any cases of arrest or conviction of a serious crime or drug-related charge. Any evidence of social wrongdoing or misconduct will automatically result in an application being denied. Lesser charges, such as DUI, can result in a temporary bar from an individual obtaining citizenship.
If any of these are true for your case, an immigration attorney can help you figure out the best route to take.
Other Instances that Can Affect Your Application Standing
It’s not just criminal behavior that can affect your moral standing and your application; any of the following can cause your application to get denied or temporarily barred:
- Lying on your application or during your interview
- Any tax problems such as owing taxes to the IRS or tax evasion
- Owing child support
- Failing to show up to any mandatory court dates or obligations
- Marrying a citizen for the sole purpose of gaining access into the U.S.
Passing the Civics Examination
All citizenship applicants are required to take a civics examination to test an immigrant’s ability to speak and comprehend the English language and how well they know U.S. history and government.
If you are looking to apply for citizenship but are unsure about any steps in the process, having an immigration and citizenship attorney can be a huge help. The dedicated team at Hernandez Law Group, P.C. can help you navigate the confusing process of applying for United States Citizenship. We can also ensure that you are being treated fairly and your concerns are heard. Contact our team today for a no-obligation consultation.