An Austin Immigration Attorney is Here to Help
Naturalization and immigration issues are complicated and different rules and processes apply to different people. Many dream of finally becoming a United States citizen; and a skilled Austin immigration attorney can help you. To reap the full benefits afforded to US Citizens, you should contact the Austin immigration lawyers at Peek and Toland today and see how their unique skill set can be put to use to get your naturalization case moving in the right direction. No other immigration lawyers in Austin put as much time into understanding and supporting our vibrant immigrant community than we do.
Through our years of experience, we have found that clients often have similar questions. For your convenience we have provided some of the most common frequently asked questions we receive from our clients about the citizenship process. We have covered the two main methods that our clients primarily seek citizenship: citizenship through naturalization and citizenship through parents. If you have any additional questions or if you would like to begin the citizenship process, initiate a review of your denied application, or need additional help with the citizenship process, you can contact us here.
Citizenship through Naturalization Frequently Asked Questions
How Does the Naturalization Process Work?
The basic process requires a person to be a permanent resident. Additionally, an individual may be eligible for naturalization if he or she is:
- 18 years or older;
- A permanent resident for a specific amount of time (usually five years, but less for some individuals);
- A person of good moral character;
- Has basic knowledge of U.S. history and government;
- Has a period of continuous residence and physical presence in the U.S.; and
- Able to read, write, and speak basic English. However, there are exceptions to this rule for someone who:
- Is 55 years old and has been a permanent resident for at least 15 years; or
- Is 50 years old and has been a permanent resident for at least 20 years; or
- Has a permanent or physical impairment that makes the individuals unable to fulfill these requirements.
To apply for naturalization, a person should be at least 18 years old and should have permanent residency:
- For at least five years; or
- For at least three years during which time he or she has been or continues to be, married to and living in a married relationship with a U.S. citizen spouse; or
- While currently serving honorably in the U.S. military, with at least one year of service, and applies for citizenship while in the military, or within six months of discharge.
Additionally, certain spouses of U.S. citizens, and those who served in the U.S. military during a past war or are serving currently in combat may be able to file for naturalization sooner. However, fulfilling all these requirements does not necessarily mean a person will be granted citizenship. A person seeking citizenship must also pass an English literacy and civics test, show he or she is of good moral character and take an Oath of Allegiance to uphold the U.S. Constitution.
What does Good Moral Character mean?
The U.S. government has determined that the definition of good moral character requires that the person applying for citizenship be of good moral character for at least five years prior to their application. It’s easier to define what is unacceptable moral character than it is to define what is good moral character.
The law states that a person is not of good moral character if:
- The person was convicted of an aggravated felony after November 29, 1990, even if the conviction was more than five years prior to the citizenship application. A person seeking citizenship should consult with an attorney if they are unsure if their prior misdemeanor or felony is classified as an aggravated felony under U.S. immigration law.
- Even if an individual has never been convicted of a felony, the U.S. government may decide to review an individual’s entire history prior to the five years of good moral character to determine whether or not the individual is of good moral character.
Do I need to study for the Naturalization and English Test?
A person preparing for the Naturalization Test an English Test should definitely take a moment to review the study materials available online. Below are links to information on each exam, as well as study materials.
If an individual fails either portion of the Civics Test or English Test, he or she will be granted one additional opportunity to take the section of the exam he or she failed within 90 days of failing. If the person applying fails the exam a second time, his or her application will be denied.
What happens if my naturalization application is denied?
At this point, there are two options:
- The denied applicant may request a N-336 Hearing with a new hearing officer.
- The denied applicant may petition a federal district court to review their application. This is a form of judicial review.
In the event an individual’s application has been denied, he or she may feel it is necessary to contact an attorney. If you find yourself in this situation, feel free to contact us. We have attorneys with years of immigration law experience who want to help you discuss your options.
Citizenship Through Parents Frequently Asked Questions
How can I determine if I am eligible for Citizenship through My Parents?
An individual can be eligible for citizenship through their parents if:
- Both parents are U.S. citizens, both parents were married at the time of birth, and at least one parent was living in the U.S. prior to the birth of the child.
- One parent is a U.S. citizen, both parents were married at the time of the birth, the U.S. citizen parent had been physically present in the U.S. or its territories for a period of five years at some time in his or her life prior to the birth, in which two of those years were after the parent’s 14th birthday, and the child’s birthrate is on or after November 14, 1986.
- One parent is a U.S. citizen, both are married at the time of the birth, and the U.S. citizen parent was physically present in the U.S. or its territories for a period of at least ten years at some time in his or her life prior to the birth, in which at least five of those years were after the parent’s 14th birthday, and the child’s birthday is before November 14, 1986 but after October 10, 1952.
If the individual seeking citizenship was born to a U.S. citizen who was not married to his or her other parent at the time of birth, the individual may still be eligible for citizenship. If you have found yourself in this situation, please feel free to contact us. We can help you obtain all the information you need to apply for citizenship.
How can I determine if I am eligible for Automatic Citizenship through my parents?
A child born outside the U.S. is a citizen after birth through their parents if:
- At least one parent is a U.S. citizen, the child is currently under the age of 18, residing in the U.S. in the legal and physical custody of the U.S. citizen parent, and the child was under the age of 18 or not yet born on February 27, 2001; or
- The child was under the age of 18 from December 24, 1952 to February 26, 2001, the child was residing as a green card holder in the U.S. and one of the following events took place:
- Both parents naturalized the before the child’s 18thbirthday or if
- One parent is deceased and the surviving parent naturalized before the child turned 18;
- The parents legally separated and the parent maintaining legal an physical custody naturalized before the child turned 18;
- The child was born out of wedlock, there is no legally established paternity and the mother naturalized before the child turn 18; or
- Both parents naturalized the before the child’s 18thbirthday or if
- The child was adopted by a U.S. citizen parent, the child resides legally in the U.S. in the legal and physical custody of the U.S. citizen parent and meets the following conditions after February 27, 2001 but before his or her 18thbirthday:
- The adopted child was adopted before his or her 16th birthday and the parents had legal custody and resided with the child for at least two years; or
- The child was admitted to the U.S. as an orphan (IR-3) or Convention adoptee (IH-3) whose adoption by his or her U.S. citizen parent(s) was fully completed abroad; or
- The child was admitted to the U.S. as an orphan (IR-4) or Convention adoptee (IH-4) who came to the U.S. to be adopted and the child’s adoptive parent(s) completed the adoption before his or her 18th birthday.
Should you have any questions about any of the information provided above or have questions about how to initiate or review your citizenship application, feel free to contact us. Our attorneys have years of immigration experience and knowledge. The attorneys at Peek & Toland are here to help you with your application, answer your questions and help guide you through the entire immigration process.