American Citizenship - The Naturalization Interview Manual

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Some errors in transcription are acceptable; failure can occur if the applicant writes a sentence different from the one spoken, writes a sentence fragment, or writes illegibly. The civics test is an oral test. It consists of 10 questions from a pool of possible questions. The applicant must correctly answer six questions to pass, in which case the test ends. The civics questions are available to study online.

Not everyone who takes the naturalization test passes all parts on the first attempt as the tests are not necessarily very easy. According to one survey, when questions from the civics test are given in multiple-choice format, only one in three Americans is able to pass it. The window for this re-examination is 60 to 90 days after the initial test failure.

The applicant will have a different set of questions in the retest. If the applicant refuses to submit to re-examination or again fails any part of it, this is grounds for denying the application. After the applicant completes the naturalization examination, including any re-examinations, USCIS will either deny the application, approve it or continue it, if the applicant needs to provide additional information before a final decision.

The applicant can self-represent during the appeal, or use a representative, such as an attorney.

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To preserve the appeal right, the applicant must file not more than 30 days after receiving the denial notice. Depending on the circumstances, this hearing may require full reconsideration, or the reviewing officer may consider only part of the denied application.

A new officer conducts the appeal hearing. If the denial was based on failure of the English or civics test, the reviewing officer must administer the failed test again, though no retest is available if the applicant fails the test at this hearing. The reviewing officer can affirm the initial decision to deny naturalization or reverse it and approve the application.


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The officer might reconsider the original grounds for denial, but still uphold the denial based on new information. If the applicant files the appeal late, USCIS can still consider it to be a motion to reconsider when new evidence or facts are presented.

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Once the naturalization application is approved, the final step is to take the Oath of Allegiance to the United States. The applicant can take the Oath of Allegiance on the same day as successful completion of the naturalization interview and test, or USCIS will mail to the applicant a Form N, Notice of Naturalization Oath Ceremony [38] with a time and place for the oath-taking ceremony. In some cases, an applicant can successfully complete all requirements for citizenship yet still be denied citizenship, such as where the USCIS discovers new derogatory information about the applicant or if the applicant twice fails to appear to take the Oath of Allegiance.

The applicant has 15 days to respond to derogatory information. If the applicant successfully refutes that information, the motion to reopen is denied and the naturalization process continues; otherwise, the application can be denied. USCIS treats failure to appear for at least two scheduled Oath of Allegiance ceremonies as the same as unrefuted derogatory information unless the applicant can show a good reason for not appearing. Alternatively, the individual can apply directly for a U.

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As you will notice, many of the laws governing citizenship require the applicant to prove that a parent has spent periods of time physically present in the U. There is a presumption of legal custody by the U. Step-children of U. The Child Citizenship Act of went into effect on February 27, Citizenship through Naturalization.

Although you may occasionally have a client who has a claim to U. Denial of a naturalization application on certain grounds can land a client in removal proceedings. Practice Tip: There are special naturalization rules for individuals who served in the U. If your client discloses that he or she has served in a branch of the U. There are four main residence requirements in the naturalization application: 1 time spent as a lawful permanent resident; 2 time residing in the State where the application is being filed; 3 time spent physically present in the United States; and 4 time spent continuously residing in the U.

To be eligible for naturalization, the applicant must be a continuous resident for five years after lawful permanent resident status is achieved. Further, the applicant must have resided for at least three months in the State where the application has been filed. Practice Tip: This is sometimes overlooked by the attorney or the applicant.

Thus, it is important to examine the past residences of the applicant for the entire five years preceding the application for naturalization. The applicant also must be physically present in the United States for at least one-half of the five or three years immediately preceding the application for naturalization.

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Practice Tip: Advise non-citizen clients to keep a list of all days spent outside the U. This will avoid the necessity of recreating all international trips from passport stamps and plane tickets. Finally, the applicant also must reside continuously in the U. There are several exceptions to the continuity of residence rule.

Time spent abroad by a spouse or child or a member of the Armed forces residing with the family member abroad is deemed to be time spent in the U. A person with a disruption in continuous residence may reapply for naturalization four years and one day following the date of return to the U. Naturalization requires the applicant to be a person of good moral character for five years or three years in the case of marriage to a U. A determination of good moral character is governed both by the statute and as a matter of discretion.

Every good moral character determination is a two part inquiry. If there is a statutory bar to finding good moral character, the application must be denied. If there is no statutory bar to finding good moral character, then USCIS determines if there is some discretionary reason for denial of the application on good moral character grounds. For example, is the applicant convicted of a crime outside the three or five year period?

Naturalization Under Section 322

Has the applicant failed to pay court ordered child support? Has the applicant failed to file income tax returns or pay U. USCIS will balance these negative character factors against the other equities in the application in deciding whether to approve or deny the naturalization application. Most often, the issue of good moral character arises when a lawful permanent resident client has been convicted of a crime. Aliens convicted of aggravated felonies and whose conviction was entered on or after November 29, can never establish good moral character, even if the conviction occurred outside of the statutory period of good moral character, and thus, they can never naturalize.

Such an alien is both removable from the United States and ineligible for naturalization, and so filing the application serves only the detrimental purpose of alerting the Department of Homeland Security that the alien is removable. You should refer the client immediately to an experienced immigration attorney if he or she discloses an aggravated felony conviction. Aliens convicted of CIMTs 50 and aliens convicted of multiple crimes 51 or a drug crime, except for a single offense of simple possession of marijuana under 30 grams, 52 are ineligible for naturalization if the conviction s occurred during the required period of good moral character either three of five years.

The most common elements involving moral turpitude include fraud, larceny, or intent to harm persons or things.


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A full discussion of which crimes are categorized as CIMTs is outside of the scope of this chapter. This list can be utilized as a research starting point for determining whether a crime is considered a CIMT. Practice Tip: It is important to be absolutely certain of all law enforcement contact with the client. The Form N, Application for Naturalization, 57 asks not only about criminal convictions, but also about any arrests the client has had and any charges that have been filed against alien.

The form also asks if the alien has ever been arrested, cited or detained by any law enforcement officer including USCIS or former INS and military officers , or if the alien has ever been placed in an alternative sentencing or rehabilitation program.

What Happens at a USCIS Naturalization Interview

Naturalization is a discretionary application; therefore, crimes committed outside of the good moral character period do not demand ineligibility, but they do have bearing on the application. Practice Tip: Rehabilitate your client. The client should have this ready for presentation to the officer at the naturalization interview, should USCIS require evidence of good moral character and rehabilitation.

Other Common Pitfalls and Roadblocks to Naturalization. Other than the criminal convictions discussed above, USCIS examines additional elements of good moral character that could present issues for clients, including false claims to U. False claims to U. In general under immigration law, making a false claim to U.

If the client was actually convicted under 18 U. There will be a balancing of the equities in the application. If a client discloses a false claim to citizenship or unlawful voting, the alien should contact an experienced immigration attorney. Since we're dedicating time and effort to your legal document preparation, our guarantee only covers satisfaction issues caused by LegalZoom - not changes to your situation or your state of mind.

Updated April 13, Welcome back Finish your LLC. Check order status Dashboard Sign out. What would you like to talk about? Legal plans Browse attorney directory Legal document review Speak with an attorney. Check order status Contact us Visit our resource center. Check order status Dashboard Sign out Sign in. Freelance writer. Permanent Residency Establishing permanent residency is the first step to acquiring U.