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Do I need a Naturalization Lawyer for U.S. Citizenship?

Applying for citizenship can be a complicated process that includes filing the appropriate forms and gathering the necessary supplemental documents in support of an application. A naturalization lawyer can help you determine whether you are eligible to apply and ensure your application is complete and free of omissions. This type of lawyer can help you prepare for and be present at your naturalization interview with a United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officer.

What is the naturalization process?

It is important to understand the application steps and potential complicating factors to a successful application. A complete application along with proper preparation for your interview and English/civics test means a much higher likelihood of approval on your first attempt. The Naturalization Eligibility Worksheet, which can be found on the USCIS website, is a useful tool to determine whether you qualify for naturalization. Speaking with a naturalization lawyer can also be very helpful. In general, the application process will proceed in the following manner:

  • Complete and file Form N-400 along with the necessary supplemental documents.
  • USCIS will mail you a letter with appointment details to have your biometrics taken.
  • USCIS will mail you a letter with appointment details for your Naturalization Interview. There will likely be questions about your application and background. All applicants will also take the civics and English test unless you obtain a waiver for the English language requirement.
  • If approved, you will receive a ceremony date to take the Oath of Allegiance to the United States. After taking the oath, you will receive your Certificate of Naturalization, which is proof of U.S. citizenship. Later you may apply for a U.S. passport.

Is speaking English a requirement for U.S. citizenship?

In most cases, the ability to speak, read, and write basic English is a requirement for citizenship. Certain age and residency exemptions to this requirement may apply to your specific situation. A naturalization lawyer can assist you in determining whether you can waive this requirement and take the civics test in your native language.

What is a naturalized citizen?

In the U.S., a naturalized citizen is a person who acquires citizenship either by statutory decree or through application and approval by USCIS. Other than those who obtain automatic citizenship by virtue of being born in the United States, all other citizens are naturalized citizens.

How an Attorney Can Help

An attorney can often resolve your particular legal issue faster and better than trying to do it alone. A lawyer can help you navigate the legal system, while avoiding costly mistakes or procedural errors. You should seek out an attorney whose practice focuses on the area of law most relevant to your issue.

How to Prepare for Your Initial Consultation

Prepare for your consultation by writing down notes of your understanding of the case, jot down questions and concerns for the attorney, and gather your documents. Remember that you are trying to get a sense of whether the attorney has your trust and can help you address your legal issues. Questions should include how the attorney intends to resolve your issue, how many years he/she has been practicing law and specifically practicing in your area, as well as how many cases similar to yours the attorney has handled. It can also be helpful to broach the subject of fees so that you understand the likely cost and structure of your representation by a specific attorney and/or legal team.

Points to Consider Before Hiring a Lawyer

Experience. Regardless of the type of legal matter you need help with, an experienced attorney will usually be able to get you better results.

Competence. Determine an attorney’s expertise by asking about their track record for the issue you need help with resolving.

Fit. There are plenty of good attorneys out there; make sure you find one you are comfortable working with.

Common legal terms explained

Personal jurisdiction – Requirement that a particular court have authority over a person, in order to bind that person to the judgment of the court, based on minimum contacts. International Shoe Co v. Washington is a landmark Supreme Court case outlining the scope of a state court’s reach in personal jurisdiction.

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