Frequently Asked Questions
I obtained a resident alien “green”
card several years ago. What do I need to do to become a United States citizen and will all of the new security laws make
it more difficult?
Lawful permanent residents are not required to become American citizens. However, legislation
that became effective on and since April 1, 1997 together with anti-terrorism and border security legislation since the catastrophic
events of September 11, 2001, have caused many resident aliens to decide to become naturalized as soon as possible.
To become a naturalized citizen of the United States, you must file a petition with the appropriate United States Citizenship
and Immigration Service (“USCIS”) Service Center and establish your lawful admission for permanent residence,
minimum periods of residency and physical presence in the USA, good moral character and an attachment to the Constitution,
an understanding of the English language, and knowledge of American history and government (although the English language
requirements may we waived for persons who have had their green cards for at least 15 years and for those with specified disabilities).
It formerly took as long as 3 years for the USCIS to process naturalization applications and, although present USCIS
policy requires processing most cases in no more than 12 months, many of my recent cases have taken as little as 4 months
between filing the initial naturalization application and actually taking the Oath of Allegiance and receiving a Certificate
of Naturalization. Although legal representation by an attorney is not required for a naturalization case, an attorney may
assist you by preparing and processing your case and determining which immigration laws are applicable to your circumstances.
In that regard, the USCIS will review your entire immigration and personal history during the naturalization process and,
therefore, even minor law violations or immigration problems in your past may affect you and could even permit the USCIS to
begin proceedings to rescind your green card and/or remove (deport) you from the USA.
As a US citizen, you will
also be able to petition for your family members to emigrate to the USA.