As an attorney who is actively involved in the community and as a volunteer, I get many questions about when it is a good idea to retain an attorney. Does a simple application, like an N-400 Application for Naturalization really need the help of an attorney? Perhaps you will want to consider the following facts before deciding.
Many aspects of your history are evaluate during the N400 applications, such as
1) Your complete immigration history
This includes your green card applications. Are you 100% sure that your green card application contained all facts in the most accurate and complete fashion? If you have ANY doubts or concerns, you should seek professional advice because your green card application will be closely scrutinized during your Naturalization process. Surprisingly, you can lose your green card during your Naturalization process and be put into removal proceedings as well. Naturalization is the LAST chance the government has to scrutinize your immigration history, and they want to make sure that they make the best of it. A small mistake can result in very costly litigation, and early detection can save you thousands of dollars.
2) Your criminal history
Think that minor shoplifting charge does not matter? Think again. Think your lie passed without being detected? Think again. Naturalization applications are infamous for being the most risky applications for people who have “gotten away” with minor issues so far. And crimes in immigration are VERY different from the criminal system. Don’t assume that a minor crime is not going to be an issue for immigration. You should DEFINITELY consult an attorney to see if your crime may impact your naturalization application. Filing too soon can result in lost application fees and additional costly Waiver application for your crimes.
3) Your Taxes
This is a surprise for most people. Why does the USCIS care about your tax history, you ask. Because they want to make sure that their new members are contributing by paying taxes regularly and ACCURATELY. Get your application checked before you apply. Again, you risk losing your application fees and spending a boat load of money on an attorney’s assistance after the fact. You may want to look at this blog post on taxes and immigration.
4) Your English
Did you memorize all of the answers for your naturalization civics test? That’s not enough. You can be denied citizenship if your examiner suspects that you do not speak a basic level of English and memorized answers are very easy to detect. You risk losing your application fee by applying too early. A screening by someone who knows and understands USCIS can save you your application fees.
5) Your continuous and physical presence in the United States.
Do you travel a lot? Did you travel frequently or for several months to another country for family or work reasons? You should make sure you contact an attorney to confront the issue of continuous and physical presence requirements HEAD ON before it is a concern for immigration purposes or your expenses can quickly skyrocket due to denied applications, costly and time consuming applications, and you risk losing your green card as well on top of it.
6) Your family
Did you get a divorce? Did you come to the US based on a marriage that you are no longer involved in? Do you and your spouse live apart? Remember marriage fraud allegations are always going to be serious and USCIS takes it very seriously during the naturalization process. Even if you got through your Green card process, even got your conditions removed on a conditional green card, you face yet another scrutiny at the time of the Naturalization or Citizenship Process.
I have seen ALL of the above cases in action and know how to deal with them. If you are concerned about your Naturalization application, it may be a wise idea to seek a consultation. We offer phone as well as in-person consultations. While our office is located in Chicago, IL, we can often provide extensive services to people located outside of Chicago. It never hurts to ask! If you are interested in finding out more information about your case or to seek a consultation, call 773-825-8695.
Remember the expense of an attorney can frequently be the best investment you make in yourself and your future. Good Luck and Best Wishes.