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How To Become A U.S. Citizen

Citizenship opens up many opportunities and provides an indisputable sign that you are an important part of your community. At Odunlami Law, we have helped countless individuals and families become citizens with the full rights and privileges that come along with U.S. citizenship.

We know the process is not always easy, because we’ve experienced the difficulties ourselves. Our team works to help you avoid common mistakes that can delay the process or lead to denials. We can help you overcome any difficulties that arise and guide you through each step until the process is complete.

Understand Your Eligibility

Before you can apply for citizenship naturalization, you need to determine for certain that you meet the qualifications. Some requirements are straightforward while others require some interpretation. To be eligible to apply for citizenship, you must:

  • Be at least 18-years-old
  • Demonstrate “good moral character”
  • Demonstrate the ability to read, write, and speak basic English
  • Have held status as a lawful permanent resident for at least five years (or three years if you are married to a U.S. citizen)
  • Meet residency requirements at the national level and local level

If you are the child of a U.S. citizen or you (or your spouse) served in the U.S. armed forces, you may be exempt from some requirements.

How Do You Prove That You are of Good Moral Character?

Applicants for citizenship through the naturalization process must demonstrate that they have been and continue to be individuals of good moral character. While the focus is on conduct during the five-year period leading up to the application, immigration officials may also look at conduct from earlier periods in your life.

What is good moral character? U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) specifies that “means character which measures up to the standards of average citizens in the community in which the applicant resides.” This seems like a standard that would be impossible to measure. Often, the moral character standard is based on showing that you have not committed actions that would demonstrate that you lack good moral character. If you have committed certain criminal actions, those are considered evidence that you lack moral character. Depending on the circumstances, you may be able to wait until five years have passed since a criminal conviction, and then it will not pose a bar to citizenship. With serious crimes, however, a conviction may permanently prevent you from gaining citizenship unless you are eligible for an exception. Our team can work with you to ensure that you are prepared to demonstrate good moral character in your application.

Steps in the Naturalization Process

  1. Prepare and file your application. Once you and your attorney have reviewed your eligibility and gathered the documentation you need to prove your qualifications, your next step is to prepare and submit Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, along with the required fees and documentation. 
  2. Provide biometric information. In many cases, the U.S. government will need to collect biometric information from you so that they can conduct the standard criminal background checks. USCIS will send you a notice either scheduling an appointment to take fingerprints and collect other information, or they will inform you that information collected previously is being re-used.
  3. Complete the interview. After your background check is complete, USCIS will schedule an interview which will also include tests of your knowledge of the English language and U.S. history and government. At Odunlami Law, we can help you prepare for your interview and tests so that you will have no need to worry about this critical step in the naturalization process.
  4. Finalizing issues. After your interview, USCIS may determine that they need additional documents or evidence which we can help you gather and submit. If you struggle with the English or civics tests, you will have the chance to try again within 60-90 days. When everything is complete, USCIS will send a written notice informing you that you are eligible for naturalization.
  5. Appeal if necessary. If for some reason your application is denied, the notice will explain the reason and we can help you appeal the decision. It is important to act quickly to preserve your right to an appeal.
  6. Oath of Allegiance. As the final steps in the naturalization process, USCIS will send a notice telling you when and where to report to take the Oath of Allegiance to the United States. Then you attend the ceremony, take the formal oath, and receive your Certificate of Naturalization.

We Want to Help You Enjoy the Full Advantages of Citizenship

At Odunlami Law, we want to make the Naturalization process as easy and worry-free as possible. No matter where you are in the country, we understand how to demonstrate that you meet the requirements for citizenship, and we can help you prepare for your interview and tests so that you can approach the process with confidence. Our team works with you every step of the way, answering your questions and providing the guidance you need to achieve success. For more information or to schedule an appointment, contact us today.  

Schedule a consultation with an immigration attorney and get your case started today.
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