Frequently Asked Questions About Gaining Citizenship in the U.S.

happy smiling young woman with pierced nose with flag of united states of americaAmerican immigration laws are complex and often confusing to applicants. Immigration lawyers are often asked questions about the immigration process, immigration laws, and citizenship. Some of the most common ones are the following:

1. How can I become a U.S. citizen?

One can become an American citizen by birth or through naturalization. Common ways to become a naturalized citizen include being the child or relative of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, being the spouse of a U.S. citizen, entering lawfully and being a lawful permanent resident on a green card for five years, or serving in the U.S. military.

2. What are the fees to apply for U.S. citizenship?

The U.S. citizenship application itself costs $725. There are other fees at various stages of the process and application fees for filing other necessary forms. An experienced immigration attorney can advise you of the process and the necessary fees for each stage.

3. Are there any tests?

An applicant for citizenship must pass a test in basic English and a general test covering American history, government, and culture. There are some exceptions to the English test requirement for those who cannot learn languages. However, in general, the applicant should expect to study English.

The general test is an oral test. The examiner will ask 10 questions out of a pool of 100 possible questions. The applicant must answer six questions correctly to pass the examination.

4. Can I retake the tests if I fail?

Applicants who take the English or the general test have two chances to pass. If you fail the test the first time, you can retake the test within 60 to 90 days and try again.

5. I intend to get married. Can I change my legal name while my application is being considered?

This is permitted. You need to file information with the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services office showing the legal change of name. A marriage license or court order would be examples of documents the USCIS would accept to show the new name as being legally changed.

6. Can I apply for naturalization more than once?

You may apply for naturalization as often as you need to do so. You must pay the filing fee each time you apply, however, so it is better to complete the process correctly the first time.

7. What is the waiting period to become a U.S. citizen?

Once you are a lawful permanent resident, sometimes referred to as a “green card” holder, you must hold your green card status for five years in order to apply for U. S. citizenship.

If you are married to a U.S. citizen, you must be married and living with them for three years in order to apply for citizenship. If you are attempting to gain U.S. citizenship by marriage, you can expect your application to be examined closely to ensure the marriage is genuine to prevent fraudulent claims.

8. What is the processing period for citizenship application forms?

The processing period can vary, but the average waiting time is 14.5 months. If you wish to become a citizen by a certain date, you must apply well in advance.

9. Is dual citizenship permitted?

The oath of allegiance requires applicants to renounce their allegiance to other countries. However, there is no American law against dual citizenship.

The Espinoza Law Offices handle all aspects of immigration law, from application to representation before immigration courts. If you require the services of an immigration lawyer near Tampa Bay, or if you would like the help of an online immigration lawyer, contact us today for an appointment. We provide legal advice and would be delighted to answer your questions.