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U.S. Citizenship

secure your future
in the united states!

U.S. citizens enjoy many benefits that are not available to residents or green card holders, such as access to visas and green cards for more family members, eligibility for U.S. government jobs, access to all U.S. government benefits, the freedom to travel without question, and the ability to vote in the United States.

At Hawks Villafranca Law we love helping people become U.S. citizens. We know that becoming a citizen and completing your U.S. immigration journey brings stability and relief to your family and we’re ready to help make that happen. Call us today for a full case evaluation and to discuss the last step on your U.S. immigration journey.

U.S. citizenship
frequently asked quesTIons

Who can apply for citizenship?

If you have been a Lawful Permanent Resident for 5 years, you may apply for U.S. citizenship. You may apply after only 3 years if you got your green card through your marriage and are still married to your U.S. citizen spouse.

how do i become a us citizen?

To become a U.S. citizen you must (1) submit an application for citizenship proving your eligibility, (2) complete a citizenship interview where USCIS will review your application and test your knowledge of English and U.S. civics, and (3) attend a ceremony where you will swear allegiance to the United States and receive your certificate of citizenship.

After I apply for citizenship, how long does it take to become a citizen?

You could become a citizen in as little as 6 months from the time you submit your application. This time line changes often, however, so you should be prepared for a longer or shorter wait. You could be called for a citizenship interview at any time after filing your application for citizenship, so be prepared and start studying NOW for your English and civics exam.

I don’t speak English well. Can I still become a citizen?

Yes! You are not required to speak perfect English in order to become a citizen. USCIS has prepared study materials and English vocabulary lists to help you prepare. There are also many ways to improve your English while your application is pending, such as practicing with family members, using language apps on your phone, or taking English classes.

Do I have to take the English test? Can I do the interview in Spanish?

If you meet the age and residency requirements, then you can skip the English language test and can also do the citizenship interview and civics test in your native language.  You are exempt from all English language requirements for citizenship if any of these things apply to you:

  • You are 55 or older and have been a resident for 15 years
  • You are 50 or older and have been a resident for 20 years

I’m nervous about the civics test. Help!

You can do this! It may seem like a lot to learn, but USCIS has study materials that include all possible questions that you may have to answer.  If you study often while your application is pending you can learn these questions and pass the exam.  You will be given 100 questions to study. During the exam you will be asked 10 of those questions and if you answer 6 of them correctly you will pass your civics test.

If you are 65 or older and have been a resident for at least 20 years, you will have a shorter set of questions to study for the civics test. You will have a list of 20 questions to study instead of 100.  During the exam you will be asked 10 of those questions and if you answer 6 of them correctly you will pass your civics test.

Does it matter how I got my green card?

No. Once you have a green card, you are just like everyone else who is a Lawful Permanent Resident and you can apply for citizenship after 5 years, or after 3 years if you are married to a U.S. citizen.

Why do I need to get a copy of my green card application from immigration?

Immigration will review your green card application and may ask you questions about your application during the citizenship interview. You don’t want to be surprised or unable to answer their questions, so you should get a copy of your green card application and review it with your immigration attorney before you apply for citizenship.

It is important that you were honest and truthful on your residency and green card application. Any inaccurate or dishonest information could prevent you from becoming a citizen and/or cause you to lose your residency. A knowledgeable, trusted immigration attorney can review your green card application for any issues that may arise during the citizenship process.

I owe money on my taxes. Can I still apply for citizenship?

No. If you have any outstanding issues with your taxes you should resolve those before applying for citizenship. If you owe any money on your taxes you could be found to not have good moral character, which is a requirement for U.S. citizenship. If you owed taxes in the past but have a payment plan with the IRS to pay everything you owe, you may be eligible to apply for citizenship while your payment plan is in place. A knowledgeable, trusted immigration attorney can review your tax history and help you understand when you should apply for citizenship.

I have a criminal record. Can I still become a U.S. citizen?

Maybe.  To become a U.S. citizen you must prove that you are a person of good moral character. Certain crimes make it impossible for you to become a citizen and others make it more difficult, but not impossible. Understanding your criminal history and how it impacts your ability to become a U.S. citizen is a complex and detailed process. We urge you to contact a knowledgeable, trusted immigration attorney for a full case evaluation, so you can fully understand your criminal history and any risks it might present to your immigration journey.

I’m a U.S. citizen but my child was born abroad. Is my child a U.S. citizen?

Maybe so! Many children born to U.S. citizens living outside the United States become U.S. citizens the moment they are born. The laws on citizenship-at-birth have changed several times and each situation is unique. At Hawks Villafranca Law we regularly help families review their situation and determine if their children are U.S. citizens.  Call us now for a full case evaluation to learn if your children are already U.S. citizens. If your children are already U.S. citizens we can guide you through the process of proving their citizenship and getting their U.S.-citizen birth certificates and passports.

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