Disclosing Crime Details During The Naturalization Process

April 29, 2011 § 1 Comment

Form N-400, the citizenship application asks for information about the applicants criminal record. It is mandatory for applicants to report their entire criminal record to the USCIS. The application might be rejected should any applicant fail to do so. Applicants who are not sure if they are eligible for naturalization because of their criminal record should ensure they consult an immigration attorney who can properly advise

Conviction of murder or any other aggravated felony may make one permanently ineligible to file  the application for citizenship immaterial of how long ago the crime was committed. There are few other types of crimes that would result in temporary bars to citizenship. The details of the conviction are very important in making this determination. Quite common one is a DUI incident and that also have to be reported and it also depends in part on how long ago the offense was committed, whether the applicant has ever committed any other crimes, and whether there are any other factors which may lead USCIS to conclude an absence of “good moral character.”

Applicants should always be honest with USCIS about all arrests (even if they were not charged or convicted), convictions (even if their record was cleared or expunged), crimes they committed for which they were not arrested or convicted; and any countervailing evidence, or evidence in their favor concerning the circumstances of the arrests, and/or convictions or offenses that the applicant would want the USCIS to consider.

Even if it was a minor crime, you have to bring it to the notice of the USCIS official, else it may result in the denial of your case. Unless a traffic incident was alcohol or drug related, applicants need not submit documentation for traffic fines and incidents that did not involve an actual arrest if the only penalty was a fine less than $500 and/or points found on the applicant’s driver’s license.

Per immigration laws, applicants should make sure to enter the complete details of any incident that is branded a crime(including the verdict). The USCIS will always do a background check for all applicants with the FBI. So in the best interest of the applicant, it is strongly advised to put down the details transparently. Being transparent in all disclosures will make the naturalization process easier. Simple traffic violations are mostly not considered as crime, but there are some exceptions. To know more about them, one can get in touch with nearest USCIS office or the contact the USCIS at 1-800-375-5283.

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What If I Lose My Certificate Of Citizenship?

April 27, 2011 § Leave a comment

Certificate of Naturalization

A Certificate of Naturalization is a document issued by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) since October 1, 1991 and the Federal Courts or certain State Courts on or before September 30, 1991 as proof of a person obtaining U.S. citizenship through the naturalization process (a legal process to obtain a new nationality).

Certificate of Citizenship

A Certificate of Citizenship is a document issued by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) as proof of a person having obtained U.S. citizenship through derivation or acquisition at birth (when born outside of the United States).

Who Should Apply for a Replacement Certificate?

Per the USCIS, you should go for a replacement of your lost certificate of citizenship, if it is mutilated, or destroyed. In addition to this, you can also apply for a new certificate if subsequent to issuance of your current certificate, your name has been legally changed either through court order or marriage or divorce.

How Do I Apply to Replace My Certificate?

A lost certificate of citizenship can be replaced by filing Form N-565. You have to mail the application with the necessary supporting documents and fees to the local USCIS office having jurisdiction over your place of residence.

What If I am Outside of the United States?

If you are outside the U.S. you must submit your application to a USCIS office in the United States and be willing to return to the U.S. to pick up the certificate.

Initial Evidence Requirements:

If you are applying for replacement of a mutilated document, you must attach the mutilated document.
If you are applying for a new document as your name has changed, you must submit the original USCIS document and a copy of the marriage certificate or court order that reflects the name change.
If you are applying for a special certificate of naturalization, you must attach a copy of your naturalization certificate.

Photographs and Fees:

Along with the N-565 application, you should submit two identical color photographs of yourself taken within 30 days of the filing of this application. You should also send a $345 submission fee along with the application.

Initial processing:

Once you mail the application and it has been accepted, the USCIS will check it for completeness, including submission of the required initial evidence and the appropriate fee. If your application is incomplete or you file it without required initial evidence, you will not establish a basis for eligibility and the USCIS might deny your application.

Requests for more information:

The USCIS might request more information or evidence or may request you to appear at a local USCIS office for an interview. They may also request you to submit the originals of any copy. They will return these originals when they are not required any longer.

Decision:

If you properly establish eligibility for the document, your N-565 application will be approved and the new document will be issued. Under certain circumstances, a special certificate of naturalization will be forwarded to the U.S. Department of State to be delivered to a foreign government official. If your N-565 application is denied, you will be informed in writing of the reasons for the denial.

Things to Consider Before Becoming a US Citizen

April 20, 2011 § 2 Comments

Citizenship is the highest status in the US and hence immigration laws strictly limit the number of persons becoming a US citizen. Not everyone who wants to become a US citizen qualifies for the same. US citizenship, whether it’s gained by birth, through naturalization, or through US citizen parents, is the highest benefit available under US immigration laws. However, many people do not realize the rights, and many green card holders ruin their chances of becoming US citizens simply because they do not know what’s required or because they are not aware of the benefits of being a US citizen. Before applying for citizenship, you should have spent some time as a green card holder
Let us take a look at the possible disadvantages of applying for citizenship. Not because the negatives over-weigh the positives, but just to know the pitfalls before launching straight into filling the application and also to tread you in the right path.

If you got your green card fraudulently and apply for citizenship, chances of getting deported are indeed very high. Another factor is that certain countries do not allow dual citizenship. The law in US about dual citizenship is pretty vague as doesn’t state clearly whether it is allows or not. Having a US passport is risky in some countries.

Advantages of Becoming a US Citizen

After becoming a US citizen, you can vote in federal elections, bring your dear ones to the US, travel anywhere with a US passport and also get citizenship for your children born abroad. You can also serve on a jury and become eligible for federal jobs. In addition to these, you become eligible for federal grants and scholarships.

To become a citizen, or to be naturalized, you should meet certain requirements:
• Be at least 18 years old.
• Have lived in the US as a permanent resident for at least 5 years.
• Be of good moral character and loyal to the US.
• Be able to read, write, speak and understand basic English.
• Have basic knowledge and understanding of the US history and the Constitution.
• Be willing to take an oath of allegiance to the US.

Based on the age of the applicants or medically proved physical or mental impairment where this disability affects their ability to learn English and civics, waivers from the citizenship test are available. Under these circumstances, you should file Form N-648 requesting an exception and this should be filed along with your N-400 application.

The Reasons Why You Could Be Barred From Obtaining Citizenship?

You should consult an immigration attorney in any of the following situations: You
• Have been convicted of a crime.
• Have ever lied to an immigration officer, consular or government official.
• Married solely to obtain residency status.
• Have been absent from the US for long periods of time, especially periods over one year since becoming a lawful permanent resident (LPR).
• Have ever been arrested.
• Failed to file an income tax return for any year since becoming a LPR.
• Owe child support.

Lost Your Green Card?

April 15, 2011 § Leave a comment

If your green card is lost or stolen, ensure that you get it replaced by filing Form I-90, Application for green card replacement with the USCIS.

A permanent resident card (green card) generally valid for ten years has to be renewed on its expiration. You will also not lose your permanent resident status in the US if you do not renew/replace your green card. Permanent resident status does not expire.

Even though your permanent resident status does not expire, per US immigration laws, you should always have proper evidence of your status (a valid, unexpired green card or temporary passport stamp). You will experience difficulties in getting employment, benefits and re-entry into the United States from abroad if you do not replace your lost green card. It is extremely important to apply for your new green card before you travel abroad and have with you on any trip the temporary documentation you received. If you try to re-enter the US with an expired green card, you might experience a delay during the inspection process at the port of entry.

Another important factor is that your employers will not accept an expired green card while verifying employment authorization for new hires. You can use other documents that you will find on Form I-9 (Employment eligibility verification form) such as social security card and driver’s license or carry temporary evidence of status, such as an I-551 stamp. Even the receipt notice that you received for your I-90, Application to replace permanent resident card will be of immense help.

It is also worth mentioning that if you do not get a replacement for the lost green card, you may not be able to file for American citizenship. Having a green card is one of the main eligibility requirements while filing the citizenship application.

The entire replacement process approximately will take three to four months.

Where Can I Download N400 Form?

April 8, 2011 § 1 Comment

All eligible green card holders applying for American Citizenship have to file Form N-400, Application for Naturalization with the USCIS.

You can download N400 form at the government website www(dot)uscis(dot)gov . All the basic forms are free on the USCIS website. There are other private companies who specialize in the preparation and completion of the US Immigration forms and they provide you with services similar to those of an immigration lawyer.

The USCIS filing process at times is long, complicated, and confusing. US immigration laws keep changing constantly. Things that are true today might be wrong tomorrow. By filling out USCIS forms without professional assistance, applicants do face the risk of completing their forms incorrectly. This might lead to higher filing costs of additional forms or even having their application delayed or completely rejected by USCIS. In many cases, the USCIS does not give applicants a second chance to file.

After I Download N400 Form, What Next?

When you download N400 form, you can also download the instructions along with it. The instructions page will have all detailed information about the supporting documents that one needs to send with the application. Additionally, information about the mailing address and the appropriate fee will also be found in the instructions page.

Any application that is not signed or accompanied by the appropriate fee will be rejected with a notice that the Form N-400 is deficient. You may correct the deficiency and submit the application again. Until accepted by USCIS, an application or petition is not considered properly filed.

Once the application has been received, it will be checked for completeness, including submission of the required initial evidence. If the applicant does not completely fill out the form, or file it without required initial evidence, he/she will not establish a basis for eligibility and the USCIS may deny your Form N-400. Additionally, the USCIS may request more information or evidence, or may request that you appear at a USCIS office for an interview. They might also request that the applicant submit certain original documents. They will return the originals when they are no longer required.

Finally, the decision on the application involves a determination of whether the applicant has established eligibility for the requested benefit. All applicants will be notified of the decision in writing.

The submission fee for Form N-400 is $595.00. However, all naturalization applicants filing under the military provisions, Section 328 or 329 of the INA need not pay the filing fee.

Apart from the submission fee, a biometric fee of $85.00 is required when filing the Naturalization application. After you submit Form N-400, the USCIS will keep you informed about when and where to go for biometric services. However, applicants above 75 years of age are exempted from biometric services fee.

Applicants may pay through one check or money order for both the application and biometric fees, for a total of $680.00. The check or money order should be drawn on a bank or other financial institution located in the United States and should be payable in U.S. Currency.

All eligible green card holders applying for American Citizenship have to file Form N-400, Application for Naturalization with the USCIS.

 

You can download N400 form at the government website www(dot)uscis(dot)gov . All the basic forms are free on the USCIS website. There are other private companies who specialize in the preparation and completion of the US Immigration forms and they provide you with services similar to those of an immigration lawyer.

 

The USCIS filing process at times is long, complicated, and confusing. US immigration laws keep changing constantly. Things that are true today might be wrong tomorrow. By filling out USCIS forms without professional assistance, applicants do face the risk of completing their forms incorrectly. This might lead to higher filing costs of additional forms or even having their application delayed or completely rejected by USCIS. In many cases, the USCIS does not give applicants a second chance to file.

 

After I Download N400 Form, What Next?

 

When you download N400 form, you can also download the instructions along with it. The instructions page will have all detailed information about the supporting documents that one needs to send with the application. Additionally, information about the mailing address and the appropriate fee will also be found in the instructions page.

 

Any application that is not signed or accompanied by the appropriate fee will be rejected with a notice that the Form N-400 is deficient. You may correct the deficiency and submit the application again. Until accepted by USCIS, an application or petition is not considered properly filed.

 

Once the application has been received, it will be checked for completeness, including submission of the required initial evidence. If the applicant does not completely fill out the form, or file it without required initial evidence, he/she will not establish a basis for eligibility and the USCIS may deny your Form N-400. Additionally, the USCIS may request more information or evidence, or may request that you appear at a USCIS office for an interview. They might also request that the applicant submit certain original documents. They will return the originals when they are no longer required.

 

Finally, the decision on the application involves a determination of whether the applicant has established eligibility for the requested benefit. All applicants will be notified of the decision in writing.

 

The submission fee for Form N-400 is $595.00. However, all naturalization applicants filing under the military provisions, Section 328 or 329 of the INA need not pay the filing fee.

 

Apart from the submission fee, a biometric fee of $85.00 is required when filing the Naturalization application. After you submit Form N-400, the USCIS will keep you informed about when and where to go for biometric services. However, applicants above 75 years of age are exempted from biometric services fee.

 

Applicants may pay through one check or money order for both the application and biometric fees, for a total of $680.00. The check or money order should be drawn on a bank or other financial institution located in the United States and should be payable in U.S. Currency.

What Is Citizenship?

April 7, 2011 § 4 Comments

In simple terms, Citizenship can be defined as the status of being a citizen of a particular social, political, national or human resource community. A citizen is a person with citizenship, being a member of a community such as a country or city.

Citizenship can also be understood as the relationship between an individual and a particular nation. In ancient Greece, the major political entity was the city or state. So citizens were generally members of particular city-states. However, during the last five hundred years, citizenship is most closely identified and related to being a member of a particular country.

Subsequently, the policy was divided between jus sanguinis (right of blood) and jus soli (right of soil) countries. A jus sanguinis or the right of blood policy gives citizenship based on ancestry or ethnicity, and very much related to the concept common in Europe. Whereas a jus soli or right of soil policy confers citizenship to anyone born on the territory of the state, very much similar to the one practiced by many countries such as the United States of America..

Another way is getting married to a person holding the citizenship (jure matrimonii) or through the naturalization process.

“Commonwealth Citizenship” is another concept, and it has been in place ever since the establishment of the Commonwealth of Nations. Only citizens of a Commonwealth member state can hold such type of citizenship and it offers specific rights and privileges within some Commonwealth countries: Then there is “honorary citizenship” that is conferred by certain to those who are considered to be especially admirable or worthy of the distinction.

American Citizenship :

US Citizenship is the status granted to a legal member of the United States. A US citizen is entitled to special rights, duties, privileges and economic benefits including federal assistance. The United States also has a dual citizenship system where you can be a citizen of the state of residence as well be a US citizen. To qualify for US citizenship, you should be at least 18 years old and a lawful permanent resident (Green Card holder). Apart from these, there are other requirements too. Green card holders meeting all the requirements should file Form N-400, the citizenship application with the USCIS.

If I Fail In The Immigration Test?

April 1, 2011 § Leave a comment

The US citizenship test is not a multiple choice test. Applicants’ knowledge in US civics will be tested orally. The USCIS interviewing official will ask ten questions from the available hundred questions. You will be considered to have passed if you are able to answer at least six out of ten questions correctly.

In English, your speaking, reading and writing ability and how well you understand English will be judged. Out of the three sentences, you should read one sentence correctly to prove to the USCIS officials that you understand the meaning of the sentence. Apart from this, you should also write one sentence correctly from the given three. Your ability to speak English will be judged by the way you reply to the questions asked by USCIS officers during the interview. The final result of your test will be based on how you performed in the test.

If I Fail The Immigration Test?

If your application was rejected/denied because you failed in the English or Civics test, you can apply again as soon as you think you have learned enough English or Civics to pass the tests. You will be given a second chance if you fail any of the tests at your interview, and will be retested on the portion of the test that you failed between 60 and 90 days from the date of your original interview. If you fail again, your case will stand denied.

If you think the USCIS made a mistake in rejecting your application, you can request a hearing with an immigration official. The denial letter that USCIS sends to you will have all the details about how to request a hearing. In this case, you have to file Form N-336,”Request for Hearing on a Decision in Naturalization Proceedings” under Section 336 of the INA with the correct fee within 30 days from the date you received the denial letter.

After the appeal hearing, if you still feel your case was wrongly denied, you can file a petition for a new review of your citizenship application in a US district court.

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