By Attorneys Robert L. Reeves and Jeff L. Khurgel
Never has there been a better time for eligible applicants to Naturalize and become U.S. Citizens. Recent Naturalization cases successfully accomplished by Reeves and Associates show a timeframe of about 3-8 months in most cases.
In a surprising Press Release announcement dated January 28, 2010, USCIS stated that there are nearly 3.5 million Legal Permanent Residents (Green Card Holders) in the State of California. According to USCIS, 2.5 million of these legal permanent residents are currently eligible to naturalize and become U.S. Citizens.
Unfortunately there are numerous myths and misconceptions regarding eligibility for Naturalization and the effect Naturalization has on pending petitions for family members. Firstly, the children of U.S. Citizens who were initially petitioned while the Citizen was a resident will not need to wait longer to apply for an Immigrant Visa because their parent decided to Naturalize. In preference categories for almost all family-based categories, the Naturalization of the Petitioner actually moves the Beneficiary into a faster-processing classification. For Filipinos, the legal permanent resident classification is more favorable, therefore a special opt-out provision allows petitioners who become Citizens to keep their favorable category. Simply put, becoming a U.S. Citizen for an individual of any nationality does not have a negative effect on a pending petition for their children.
Other factors that may affect, but will not necessarily disqualify an application for citizenship include some criminal infractions, travel outside of the U.S., and the age and any possible disability of the applicant. An evaluation of what makes up an applicant’s Good Moral Character (as this concept is defined by USCIS) should be conducted prior to the submission of any application.
In addition to a short waiting time, benefits of U.S. Citizenship include but are not limited to:
• Patriotism: Demonstrate pride and commitment to the country you call home.
• Voting: Only U.S. Citizens can vote in all Federal and most State elections.
• Family Reunification: U.S. Citizens can petition their parents, spouses, and children without the need to wait for a priority date to become current. U.S. Citizens, unlike Legal Permanent Residents (“LPRs”), can also petition their siblings. LPRs can also petition their children and spouses, but are subject to a long wait of years and sometimes over a decade.
• Traveling with a U.S. Passport: U.S. Citizens (unlike LPRs) are able to receive U.S. government assistance when abroad and can stay outside of the U.S. for any length of time desired, without the concern for losing their Citizen status.
• Eligibility for Certain U.S. Federal Jobs: Most Federal jobs require Citizen status.
• Automatic Citizenship for certain children for U.S. Citizens.
• Upon Naturalization, no need to extend or renew LPR Status, and save renewal fees.
• Lock in current USCIS Naturalization Filing Fees before rumored fee increases take effect.
• Many other benefits apply to U.S. citizens in addition to those mentioned above.