Q: I am interested to apply for Naturalization to become a US Citizen. I have been a permanent resident for at least 5 years. What Form for I use? What is the filing fee for the application?
A: The Form to use is Form N-400 Application for Naturalization. You may obtain this Form from the USCIS website at www.uscis.gov. Go to the link ‘Forms’ and you will be able to find this Form. You may print and download the Form to complete and submit or you may do the application for online submission. The filing fee for the N-400 Application for Naturalization is $640.00 including an additional $85.00 for biometrics. The total fee payable to USCIS will be $725.00. Applicants 75 years of age or older do not need to pay a biometric fee. They only need to pay the $640 filing fee.
Q: I have an old conviction and it is outside the 5 year statutory period for Naturalization. Do I need to worry about it?
A: When there is a conviction at any time, it is wise to be careful. Because there are so many different levels of convictions for a whole hosts of different offences, some of them more serious than the others, it is advisable to contact an immigration lawyer to review the conviction records for determination that it will not affect your naturalization application in any way or worse still, result in you being place in removal proceedings.
Q: I had my conviction expunged. Do I have to disclose this conviction in my Naturalization application?
A: You will need to be truthful about all your arrests and convictions even those that have been expunged. Being untruthful could be a reason to deny your application for lacking good moral character.
Q: My brother was placed on probation for a conviction and he completed the sentence 2 years ago but it is still within the 5-year statutory period. Can he apply for citizenship now?
A: If an applicant has been on probation, parole or had a suspended sentence during all or part of the required 5-year statutory period, the applicant may still apply for naturalization. However, the immigration officer has the discretion to use that probation, parole or suspended sentence to determine whether the applicant possesses good moral character for the requisite 5-year statutory period. Clearly this will depend on the nature of the offence and perhaps if he had previously committed a similar type of offence before. I suggest that he contact an immigration lawyer to review the conviction records to determine whether he should wait before submitting his naturalization application.
Q: I received my permanent resident status through a self-petition as a battered spouse. How long do I need to wait before I become eligible to file for naturalization?
A: You may file your application for Naturalization three years after having received your permanent residence. USCIS will accept your application if filed within 60 days before the three-year period. In the N-400 Application for Naturalization, on page 1 under ‘Eligibility’, check Box E for ‘Other’ and indicate that you received permanent residence thru self-petition as battered spouse under VAWA.
Q: I became a permanent resident 5 years ago thru marriage. My wife and I are now divorced. We divorced last year. I wish to file for my naturalization. However, I am concerned about filing now because while still married to my wife, I had an extra marital affair and my mistress conceived a child. This caused my marriage to end in divorce. My son is now two years old. Do I have anything to be worried about? What is your advice?
A: I advise that you give yourself at least a 5 year wait period from the time your child was conceived before filing your naturalization application. It is very likely that the immigration officer will see your extra marital affair which resulted in your child being conceived as bad moral character for the 5 years period and will deny your application based on discretion. If you wish to apply now, you may still do so but just be aware that most likely your application will not be approved for this reason.
Any advice provided in this article is general in nature and not intended to constitute legal advice for any specific case. Please consult with an immigration lawyer about the specific circumstances of your case.
Sharlene Sharmila Richards is a licensed Immigration Lawyer practicing in Houston, Texas. She is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. She was admitted to the New York State Bar in 2000 and is a member of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals and a member of the US Supreme Court. If you require advice or assistance, you may contact her at telephone number 713-623-8088 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case.