USCIS clarifies certain naturalization eligibility requirements

USCIS clarifies certain naturalization eligibility requirements

The USCIS recently updated its Policy Manual on when a lawful permanent resident (LPR) is eligible to file for naturalization. The significant change is defining when the person is considered an LPR. The basic eligibility requirements include:

  • The applicant must be at least 18 years old.
  • The applicant must establish he or she has been lawfully admitted to the US for permanent residence.
  • If the person’s LPR status was not lawfully obtained for any reason (fraud or was not in compliance with the immigration law), the person is not considered to have been lawfully admitted, and therefore not eligible for US citizenship.
    • For example, if a person obtain a green card as “single”, but was secretly married, the person was not lawfully admitted, and would not be eligible for US citizenship.
    • Another example is if a person obtained a green card through a fixed marriage. If that comes out during the naturalization interview, not only would his naturalization application be denied, but the USCIS could also revoke their green card.
    • This is true even if they are already LPRs. There should have been no fraud in connection with the way they obtained a green card.
  • The person is considered to be an LPR (green card holder) at the time USCIS approves their adjustment of status application (Form I – 485) or when the person enters the US with an immigrant visa through American Embassy processing.
    • It doesn’t matter how long, or how many years, USCIS may have taken to adjudicate the person’s adjustment of status; they become an LPR only on the date the case is finally approved.
  • A person who is a conditional permanent resident (CPR), for example through marriage, is also eligible to file for naturalization after the removal of the conditional status and three years from the date he got his green card (CPR).

    If a person committed certain crimes, or is still on probation, they may not be eligible to file for citizenship. In addition, some crimes can make a person deportable/removable. So, if a person goes ahead and files for citizenship, is fingerprinted, and the crimes are uncovered, not only could their naturalization application be denied, but they could also face removal.

If you have any questions or issues about your eligibility to file for naturalization, you should first seek the advice of an attorney, who can analyze your situation. Don’t just file first, and see what happens. Your LPR status could be jeopardized and you could be deported.

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