Immigration has become a hot topic since the 2016 election. Now more than ever, it is critical that all immigrants secure their status in the United States. There has been a rise in applications for U.S. citizenship, and currently there is a backlog of 18-22 months. That means that if you file an application today, you will be interviewed between February and May 2020.
Many immigrants have put off becoming a U.S. citizen because of financial cost, language barriers, or simply because they feel that being a Legal Permanent Resident is enough. In today’s climate, this could not be further from the truth. The only protection against deportation is becoming a United States citizen. Many Legal Permanent Residents have learned the hard way that past criminal behavior or immigration violations that they thought were forgiven still have consequences. This is especially true for Legal Permanent Residents who travel abroad and risk questioning or secondary inspection upon returning to the United States.
If you have been a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) for 5 years, or if you are an LPR married to a U.S. Citizen for 3 years, you meet the first requirement to file for U.S. citizenship through naturalization. The most important step an LPR must take when deciding to become a U.S. citizen is to review their case with an experienced immigration attorney before filing the application. An experienced attorney can review your entire immigration history and advise you of any potential negative details that may hurt your chances of becoming a U.S. citizen. Today, USCIS is reviewing naturalization applications with great scrutiny. LPR’s with any criminal arrest or violation should not file an application without the assistance of an attorney. Certain crimes or prior immigration violations in your past can cause your application to be denied, or even to be referred for deportation before the Immigration Court.
Becoming a United States citizen not only allows immigrants the only protection against deportation, but it also allows for immigrants to petition for their parents, married children, and siblings. Most importantly, as a U.S. citizen, you can register to vote and make your voice heard.
For details on the requirements to become a U.S. citizen, please refer to the “Citizenship and Naturalization” section in the “Services” tab of our website. At Garza & Associates, we have an experienced legal team that has dealt with many complicated issues in the naturalization process. Contact us at (713) 664-6200 to schedule a consultation today.