Helping Individuals and Families Acquire U.S. Citizenship
Houston’s top naturalization lawyers at Fong Ilagan are here to help you through the process of becoming a U.S. Citizen. We truly value the reward of helping our clients acquire citizenship. The process can be extremely arduous, but our immigration lawyers 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 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 any roadblocks along the way. Before you begin your path toward citizenship, get started with the best naturalization attorneys in Houston.
Call Fong Ilagan today at (713) 772-2300 to schedule a no-obligation consultation.
Our Citizenship and Naturalization Services in Houston
Our legal team at Fong Ilagan provides full representation during the citizenship process for you and your family. Each of our immigration lawyers offers professional and legal aid you won’t find anywhere else. Working with our Houston naturalization lawyers can help you through the lengthy and intricate process of becoming a citizen by:
- Determining your eligibility
- Explaining all of your available options
- Assisting with the Application for Naturalization
- Providing expert legal advice on which forms and documents to include with your application
- Communicating with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) about your immigration case
The Benefits of U.S. Citizenship
Though many immigrants enjoy life in the United States as lawful permanent residents, LPRs do not have all the same rights and abilities as citizens. American citizenship offers additional benefits including the:
- 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
What is Naturalization?
Most people over the age of eighteen who seek American citizenship will have to go through the naturalization process. To be eligible for naturalization, you must meet one of the following criteria:
- Be a lawful permanent resident (have a green card) and have lived in the U.S. for at least five years
- Have asylum and have lived in the U.S. for at least four years
- Be the spouse of a U.S. citizen and have lived in the U.S. for at least three years
- Be a lawful permanent resident who has served in the U.S. military and has lived in the country for at least three years
How a Houston Naturalization Attorney Can Make the Process Smoother
Becoming a citizen is not an easy process. But having an experienced naturalization lawyer by your side can make it smoother and faster. A qualified naturalization attorney in Houston will know the ins and outs of the citizenship process. They can make sure everything is filled out and submitted correctly and even accompany you to your interview and provide any needed advice and clarification.
Call (713) 772-2300 today to speak to a Houston citizenship lawyer and learn more about how we can help.
What are the Requirements to Become a U.S. Citizen?
Becoming a citizen in the United States can be an incredibly long and complex process, often taking many years to fully complete. The requirements have become increasingly stringent over the years. Nevertheless, it is still entirely possible to become a citizen in the U.S.
To acquire U.S. citizenship, you must meet the following requirements:
- Have continuous physical presence in the U.S.
- Be a lawful permanent resident for three or five years, depending on the category you fall under
- Be at least 18 years of age
- Have a good moral character
- Be willing to take the Oath of Allegiance
- Have the ability to read, write, and speak English
- Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of U.S. history and government
- Willingness to defend the Constitution
If you aren’t sure whether you meet the above criteria, we recommend scheduling a consultation with one of our knowledgeable naturalization lawyers in Houston.
What Does “Good Moral Character” Mean?
Those applying for citizenship are often confused by the “good moral character” requirement and wonder what it really means. The USCIS defines “good moral character” as measuring up to the moral standards of the average citizen within the applicant’s community.
Before the naturalization interview, applicants must submit documents pertaining to their criminal background so officials can evaluate the applicant’s moral character.
Crimes that may result in a denial of citizenship are typically very serious crimes that signal to the U.S government that you will be a danger to yourself or others. Certain criminal convictions may automatically bar you from citizenship and initiate removal proceedings. Some examples of these offenses include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Domestic violence
- Aggravated assault
Due to their seriousness, these crimes are red flags for the U.S. immigration system. If you plan on applying for citizenship in the near future, it is critical to avoid committing any crimes, especially ones that fall under crimes of moral turpitude.
Keep in mind that even with a spotless record, there is still no guarantee you will be awarded citizenship. Therefore, it is best to work with a skilled Houston naturalization attorney and follow the entire process correctly to give yourself the best chance of success.
What Documents Will I Need to Provide?
During each stage of the naturalization process, you will need to show or submit certain documents in order to maintain eligibility. Missing documents could cause delays and worsen your chances of being selected.
When submitting your Form N-400, you might need to include the following:
- 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, these additional documents will need to be submitted to the USCIS:
- Proof of Green Card holder
- 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 may not be applicable to your naturalization process. To better determine what you will need for your citizenship bid, reach out to one of our experienced Houston family immigration attorneys by calling (713) 772-2300.
The Application Process
The full naturalization process can be split into several parts. To begin, you will need to fill out Form N-400, otherwise known as the “Application for Naturalization” and pay the filing fee, which is currently $725. 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 (typically around 12 months after you apply,) you will receive an appointment notice for your naturalization interview. The interview is split into two sections: an English and Civics portion.
The Naturalization Interview
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 start evaluating your ability to understand and respond to questions and instructions.
The Civics portion will feature ten Civics questions being asked out of a pool of 100. You will need to answer at least six 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 whether their naturalization efforts will be successful by the end of the interview. 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.
Green Card Information
To begin the naturalization process, you will need a Green Card, which shows you have obtained permanent residency status in the United States.
If you don’t have a Green Card, you will need to begin the process of obtaining one. There are several ways to do so. 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 have a Green Card but it is lost or expired, you might still be able to successfully file your N-400. For many, an expired or lost Green Card does not result in a citizenship denial, but it would be best to have a current Green Card to increase your chances of success.
Call (713) 772-2300 today to learn more about the naturalization process.
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. That is why 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?
Yes. You should bring both your birth certificate and marriage certificate with you. The USCIS provides a detailed list of documents you will need to provide during your interview on the Application for Naturalization (N-400.)
- 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 can apply for naturalization.
Work with the Best Citizenship & Naturalization Lawyers in Houston
At Fong Ilagan, our lawyers 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 get the process back on track. Call (713) 772-2300 or contact us online to arrange a consultation.
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