Fong Ilagan is Houston’s top local law firm when it comes to helping clients through the process of naturalization. Coming into our office, clients can expect to be approached by bilingual and experienced attorneys that will answer all their questions and exceed their citizenship goals by a great deal.
Our highly reviewed and reliable attorneys are always available to consult with you if you are in need of high-quality and dependable immigration services. In a consultation, you can learn more about how we will advocate for you throughout your case. There is no other reliable firm in Houston than the team of Fong Ilagan. Getting started with the best legal work is possible with a highly-rated and reputable law office. Contact us today to learn more.
At Fong Ilagan, we value the reward in helping our clients win citizenship. The process can be extremely arduous, but our immigration attorneys are ready to see your case through to the end, doing everything in our power to ensure that you are awarded a favorable outcome.
Our immigration team has helped thousands of clients seek citizenship and we look forward to hearing your story and helping you achieve your goals. The path to American citizenship is not always easy but with our help, you can avoid the potential pitfalls and overcome roadblocks along the way. Before you begin your journey toward citizenship, get started with the best team of professionals possible. Fong Ilagan is here to step in.
The Benefits of Citizenship
Though many immigrants enjoy life in the U.S. as a lawful permanent resident, LPRs do not have all the same rights and abilities as citizens. American citizenship is accompanied by the following:
- Right to vote
- Right to run for office
- Right to have a U.S. passport
- Ability to travel without losing your residency status
- Ability to sponsor relatives for a green card
- Right to receive government benefits
How a Lawyer Can Make the Process Smoother
Having a lawyer by your side in the process of gaining U.S. citizenship means that they will be with you in every step. A lawyer can accompany you in your interview, especially when you might need clarification. This can further help you prove your eligibility to become a U.S. citizen.
Citizenship and Naturalization FAQs
- Does the USCIS make frequent changes to the citizenship test?
The USCIS does not make frequent changes to the test unless there have been recent elections or appointments. It is important to know the most current answers to these questions.
- Do I need to bring legal documents such as birth and marriage certificates to the interview?
You should bring all of these documents. When filling out Form N-400, the USCIS provides a detailed list of documents you should provide to the interview, depending on your case.
- What should I do if I have already applied for citizenship and my green card is expiring?
A lawful permanent resident is required to have valid, unexpired proof of lawful residency in his or her possession at all times. For this reason, you must apply to renew your green card immediately, even if you have applied for citizenship.
- How many times can I apply for naturalization?
There is no limit to the number of times you apply for naturalization.
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Naturalization In Houston — Requirements to Become A Citizen
Becoming a citizen in the United States can be an incredibly long and complex process, often taking many years to fully complete. Given just how many people try to become a U.S citizen year after year, the requirements have become increasingly stringent over the years. Nevertheless, it is still entirely possible to become a citizen in the U.S.
The following factors are going to be most important when determining whether you can receive citizenship:
- Good moral character
- Oath of Allegiance
- U.S Civics and history knowledge
- Willingness to defend the Constitution
If you aren’t sure whether you have what you need in all of these categories, you could closely consult with an attorney or shore up your U.S knowledge with practice guides.
“Good Moral Character” Explained
Whenever individuals begin to learn more about the naturalization process, they tend to get hung up on the “good moral character” requirement. By the naturalization interview, applicants need to submit documents pertaining to their records with law enforcement to evaluate their moral character. At first glance, it can seem like a vague and nebulous term, especially since your conduct over the past 3 to 5 years will be reviewed. Basically, if you’ve been convicted of a “morally reprehensible and intrinsically wrong” crime, you may be denied your bid for citizenship.
These kinds of crimes, also referred to as crimes of moral turpitude, are typically very serious crimes that signal to the U.S government that you will be a danger to yourself or others as a citizen. A conviction of these types of crimes may automatically bar you from citizenship and trigger removal proceedings. Some examples of these types of offenses include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Child/Spousal abuse
- Aggravated assault
As you can tell, many of these crimes are of a serious magnitude, making them red flags for the U.S. immigration system. If you plan on applying for citizenship in the near future, it’s crucial that you avoid committing any crimes, especially ones that fall under crimes of moral turpitude.
However, even with a spotless record, there is still no guarantee that you will be admitted. You’ll need to ensure that you follow the full process correctly to give yourself the best chance.
What Documents Will I Need For Naturalization?
There are several documents that you will need throughout the naturalization process. At each stage, you will need certain documents with you to maintain eligibility. If you are missing any documents, it could cause delays and worsen your chances of being selected.
When submitting your Form N-400, you will need to submit the following documents along with it:
- Proof Of Current Marital Status
- Proof of Identity
- Fee-Reduction Application (optional)
- Fee Waiver Application (optional)
- Request For Representation at Naturalization Interview (optional)
- Proof Of Green Card Holder (Permanent Resident Status)
- Proof of military service (optional)
- Proof of medical disability (optional)
At the time of your naturalization interview, the following documents will need to be submitted to the USCIS:
- Proof of Green Cardholder
- State ID
- Travel records
- Proof of marital status
- Proof of an authentic marriage for the past three years before filing your N-400
- Proof of spouse’s U.S citizenship for the past 3 years before filing your N-400
- Proof of termination of your spouse’s previous marriage
- Proof of official name changes
- Proof of previous encounters with law enforcement
- Proof of Selective Service RegistrationProof that you have maintained permanent residence in the United States
- Proof of IRS tax payments or overdue tax obligations
- Proof of fulfilled financial support obligations
- Proof of parental rights over your child(ren)
Many of the above documents may not be applicable to your naturalization process. To get a better idea of which documents you will need for your citizenship bid, please get in touch with our team to speak with an immigration attorney.
The Application Process
The full naturalization process can be split into several parts. To begin, you will need to fill out a Form N-400, otherwise known as the “Application for Naturalization”. This form currently costs $725 to file, which can be broken down into a $640 processing fee and an $85 biometric services fee. This form needs to be submitted along with the supporting documents mentioned in the above section.
Towards the end of your Form N-400 processing timeline (which takes 12 months on average), you will be mailed an appointment notice for your naturalization interview. This now-infamous interview is split into two main sections: an English and Civics portion.
The English portion of the test will evaluate your ability to speak, read, and write in basic English. The moment you arrive at the interview, the USCIS officer will likely start evaluating your ability to understand and respond to questions and instructions. The Civics portion will feature 10 Civics questions being asked out of a pool of 100. You will need to answer at least 6 out of 10 questions correctly. There is a waiver for the English portion of the test (though it is rarely awarded) but the Civics portion is mandatory.
Most people will have a good idea of if their naturalization efforts will be successful by the conclusion of this interview phase. In some circumstances, the decision may take longer for various reasons. If your application is denied, you will be given reasons by the USCIS officer and then be eligible to appeal or file a new application. Check out our blog for more information.
Green Card Information
To even begin the naturalization process, you first have to have a Green Card. A Green Card simply shows that you have obtained permanent residency status in the United States. Your status as a Green Card holder is mandatory before you begin the citizenship process.
If you don’t have a Green Card, then you will need to begin the process of obtaining one. There are several ways that you can get a Green Card based on your individual situation. Using an Adjustment of Status, you can apply for permanent residency while already living in the United States. If you are outside of the United States or cannot adjust your status, consular processing would be the method you’d likely use.
If you already had a Green Card but it is lost or expired, you may still be able to successfully file your N-400 anyway. For many, their expiring or lost Green Card was not a hindrance in achieving naturalization, but it would be best to have a current Green Card to reduce any factors that could lessen the chances of success.
If you have any questions about how your Green Card status will affect your naturalization application, feel free to contact our team directly.
Work with The Best Citizenship & Naturalization Lawyers in Houston
At our firm, we have extensive experience helping clients navigate the naturalization process. We have a thorough understanding of U.S. immigration policy and your rights regarding citizenship. Should you encounter any challenges during the process, our Houston naturalization attorneys can be there to get you back on track. Reach out to Fong Ilagan by calling or contacting us online to get started with a consultation right away.
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