Do Your Due Diligence Before Applying for Naturalization

So many dream of becoming naturalized citizens of the United States. For many, submitting an application for naturalization to USCIS marks the last milestone in the journey to becoming a U.S. citizen, but it can also trigger a reexamination of the applicant's permanent resident application by USCIS.

The requirements for naturalization appear deceptively simple: Be a lawful permanent resident over the age of 18; establish continuous residence for at least five years (and physical presence for at least half that time); demonstrate good moral character; pass tests of English, History and Government; and be willing to take the oath of allegiance and bear arms for the United States.

But once the application for naturalization is submitted to United States Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS), USCIS will not only review these factors, but also whether the applicant was lawfully admitted to permanent residence in the first place. For example, if the applicant engaged in fraud or willfully misrepresented some material fact in their immigrant visa application or adjustment of status application, USCIS may not only act to deny the application for citizenship, but may also file and serve a notice to the applicant to appear in Immigration Court to answer removal charges.

When considering applying for naturalization, aspiring citizens should always have an immigration attorney perform a detailed review of their case history. An attorney who is well versed in immigration law can advise the client on the risks and benefits of applying for naturalization.

Timothy D. Widman is a Immigration Attorney and the owner of the Law Office of Timothy D. Widman, with offices in San Jose and Cupertino.

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