What You Need to Know About Becoming a U.S. Citizen in 2021
Becoming a U.S. citizen in 2021 comes with a fair share of challenges in light of the coronavirus pandemic. However, it also comes with a hint of hope following President Biden’s announced U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021 that aims to modernize the immigration system and prioritize keeping families together. So, what can you expect from your application in 2021, what are the challenges you might face, and how can an experienced immigration lawyer help you? Let’s dive right in!
A Quick Rundown of the Process of Applying for U.S. Citizenship
Step 1: Check Your Eligibility to Apply for U.S. Citizenship
There is a range of eligibility requirements you need to meet based on your immigration status. The main requirement is that you should be 18 years or older and be a Green Card holder. If you fear you might not be eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship, it’s best to hire an immigration lawyer to help determine your eligibility.
Generally speaking, if you have family members that are U.S. citizens, have a clean criminal record, and make no mistakes in your application process, you will already be in a more advantageous position than most other applicants.
Step 2: Prepare Form N-400
Once you’ve established you’re eligible, it’s time to prepare Form-400, which is the standard Application for Naturalization document. Form-400 is long and complex, which is why you’d typically work with a legal professional to help you fill it out without mistakes.
Step 3: Prepare Your Supporting Documents
In addition to Form-400, you need to supply a few supporting documents. If you fail to submit them, this can easily prolong the processing time of your application, and in some cases, it can lead to outright denial. When you’re working with a lawyer, they’ll ensure there are no missing documents in your application.
Step 4: Submit Your Citizenship Application and Pay the Filing Fee
Upon submitting your application to the USCIS, you need to pay a filing fee of $725. It includes $640 for form processing and $85 for the biometrics fee. That fee is non-refundable, so it’s really important to ensure all your paperwork is in order before submitting it.
What Challenges Can an Immigration Lawyer Help You With?
Although hiring an immigration lawyer to help with your citizenship application is not always necessary, working with a professional who completely understands all current immigration laws can significantly reduce the risk of mistakes and delays. Becoming a U.S. citizen in 2021 may come with certain challenges. Below are some of the most common cases when you will likely need the help of an immigration lawyer to resolve the situation.
Suppose your prior immigration applications have been denied. In that case, you will need to consult with a lawyer on why your application got rejected and whether you can appeal the decision or reapply at a later time.
Unreasonable Wait Time
If you never heard back from USCIS after your application, or the wait time has been unreasonably long, it’s best to hire an attorney. Immigration lawyers are aware of the application process, including the deadlines and expected wait times. In some cases, they might be able to arrange expedited or rush processing.
Almost every USCIS form in the application process requires you to disclose whether you have a criminal record or have been convicted of a crime. This includes charges that were later expunged or dropped as well. Working with an immigration attorney that is aware of where immigration and criminal law overlap each other will not only spare you the need to hire an additional criminal defense lawyer, but it will ensure you’re handling your application without errors.
If you have previously been excluded from entry to the United States or have been deported, you will have to hire an attorney. That’s necessary because exclusion and deportation can sometimes mean that you have permanently been banned from future citizenship applications.
Certain medical conditions, mainly communicable diseases, can prevent you from entering the United States. In these situations, an immigration attorney can help applicants by determining whether their medical condition makes them ineligible and what options they have to apply.
If you’re dreaming of becoming a U.S. citizen in 2021 but the application process seems too complex for you, turning to an immigration lawyer is the smart thing to do. Legal Chiefs is here to help you find the right legal professional for your particular case!