Naturalization describes the process by which people not born in the United States or to U.S.-citizen parents can become citizens themselves, a process that can be long, extensive, and complicated. Given the language barrier, the numerous necessary documents, and the unfamiliarity with the naturalization process, many immigrants seeking citizenship never begin the process, get swamped in legalese, or have their applications denied.
While there is no statutory requirement for you to hire an immigration lawyer to file for citizenship, you may want to have someone with some professional experience on your side to guide you through the naturalization process.
Americans and English
One of the requirements of U.S. citizenship is an ability to read, write, and speak English. But basic language comprehension is one thing, and navigating the immigration and naturalization process is quite another. And if you have any difficulty reading and understanding English, applying for citizenship can seem impossible.
Most immigration attorneys will either be fluent in the language of their clients, or offer an interpreter or translator to aid the process. And an experienced naturalization lawyer will also be fluent in the legal requirements for citizenship. It is important that you and your attorney can understand each other, and what's required in the naturalization process.
Proof and Documentation
There are several requirements an applicant must meet in order to be granted citizenship, and they will all require some form of proof or documentation. There are dozens of forms or documents that will make up your application, from color photographs of your face and biographical information to marriage certificates and IRS agreements. Understanding which documents need to be filed with Citizenship and Immigration Services — and what those documents should contain — can be difficult without legal assistance.
Time and Experience
A good immigration and naturalization lawyer will tell you just what to expect from the naturalization process, and an experienced attorney knows what Citizenship and Immigration Services wants to see on an application. A lawyer can give you an idea of how long the process might take, provide updates throughout the process, and may even be able to help you prepare for the examination segment. And an attorney can ensure that your application has everything necessary to give you the best shot at citizenship.
Whether you have difficulty understanding English, need assistance gathering the necessary documents, or just want to know why some applications are denied so you can avoid the same fate, you can find experienced immigration attorneys in our directory.
- Find Immigration Lawyers Near You (FindLaw's Lawyer Directory)
- 5 Questions to Ask an Immigration Lawyer (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)
- How Permanent Residents Become U.S. Citizens (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)
- #USImmigrationLaw: What Will Affect My Citizenship Application? (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)