Hi. I am Zlata Berman, an attorney from Spektor, Spektor & Berman.
In this quick post, I am going to let you know about the benefits of naturalization, the importance of becoming a US citizen, and who can get naturalization.
Becoming a naturalized citizen is a significant milestone for immigrants in the United States. It comes with numerous benefits that can substantially impact an individual’s life. In this blog post, we will explore the benefits of naturalization, the eligibility requirements for becoming a naturalized citizen, and tips for overcoming common challenges that immigrants face.
Benefits of Naturalization
Becoming a naturalized citizen has numerous benefits that can improve an individual’s life.
Here are some of the most important benefits:
- Voting: Naturalized citizens can vote in federal, state, and local elections. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 22 million naturalized US citizens of voting age in 2020 made up nearly 10% of the voting-eligible population. Voting is essential to participating in American democracy and can help shape policies that affect your community.
- Family Reunification: One of the most significant benefits of naturalization is the ability to bring certain family members to the U.S. Naturalized citizens can sponsor their spouses, children, and parents for permanent residence in the U.S., which can be a critical factor in family reunification. For example, a naturalized citizen can sponsor their parents for permanent residence, allowing them to live in the U.S.
- Travel without Issues: Naturalized citizens can travel freely without facing the same limitations as permanent residents. They are also exempt from secondary inspection, which can save time and hassle when traveling internationally.
- Avoiding Deportation Proceedings: Naturalization can help protect individuals from being placed in deportation proceedings. It can also help individuals avoid facing immigration issues due to arrests and criminal convictions. For example, naturalized citizens cannot be deported for minor crimes like traffic violations.
Naturalization is a process available to individuals who meet specific eligibility requirements.
Here are the most important factors to consider:
To be eligible for naturalization, an individual must be a legal permanent resident and meet the following requirements:
- Be at least 18 years old;
- Have lived in the U.S. as a permanent resident for at least five years (or three years if married to a U.S. citizen);
- Demonstrate good moral character; and
- Pass an English and civics test.
The Naturalization Process
The naturalization process involves filing an application with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), attending a biometrics appointment, and completing an interview with a USCIS officer. The N-400 form is the application that must be completed to start the naturalization process.
Fees and Timing
The cost of naturalization can be a significant barrier for many immigrants, particularly those with low incomes. Fortunately, fee waivers are available for those who meet specific income requirements. The processing time for naturalization applications varies, but it typically takes six to 12 months.
Overcoming Common Challenges
Naturalization can be a complex and challenging process for many immigrants.
Here are some common challenges and tips for overcoming them:
- Legal Issues – Immigrants with arrests or criminal convictions may face additional challenges when applying for naturalization. It’s essential to work with an experienced immigration attorney to determine the best course of action for your specific situation. For example, some convictions can make an immigrant ineligible for naturalization.
- Language Barriers – The English and civics test is a critical component of the naturalization process. Preparing for the test by practicing English and studying civics knowledge is essential. Many resources are available to help immigrants overcome language barriers. USCIS’s website provides free study materials and online resources to help immigrants prepare for the naturalization test.
- Financial Barriers – The cost of naturalization can be a significant barrier for many immigrants, particularly those with low incomes. However, several options are available for financial assistance, including fee waivers and payment plans. For example, the USCIS fee waiver program allows individuals to apply for a fee waiver if they demonstrate financial hardship.
Understanding the Benefits and Process of Naturalization
Becoming a naturalized citizen is essential for immigrants who want to achieve their goals and enjoy the full benefits of living in the U.S. By understanding the benefits of naturalization, the eligibility requirements, and how to overcome common challenges, immigrants can take the necessary steps to become U.S. citizens and make the most of their opportunities. Remember, becoming a naturalized citizen is a complex process, and it’s essential to seek out the help and guidance of experienced immigration attorneys and resources.
If you want to learn more about the benefits of naturalization and becoming a U.S. citizen, we recommend watching the full interview on our YouTube channel. The interview features experienced immigration attorneys who provide practical advice and insights about the naturalization process, eligibility requirements, and the benefits of becoming a US citizen. By watching the full interview, you can gain a more comprehensive understanding of the topic and learn more about the resources available to immigrants looking to naturalize. Be sure to subscribe to our channel to stay up-to-date with the latest information and insights on immigration law.