Phoenix Immigration Attorney – Naturalization

Naturalization – Basic Requirements:

While applying for naturalization seems like a fairly straight-forward process, there are some traps along the way that one can unknowingly step into. Most people can apply for naturalization five years after receiving a green card.

  • EXCEPTION- an applicant who obtained a green card on the basis of marriage to a U.S. citizen can apply for naturalization in three years.

The Traps – when you should consider hiring an attorney to do your application:


  • An application for naturalization requires five years of good moral character;
  • Lack of good moral character includes many things that are not necessarily crimes;
  • You can lack good moral character even if you have not committed any felonies;
  • Lack of good moral character includes failure to pay child support, not filing ones taxes since becoming a lawful permanent resident, and having a misdemeanor on your record, such as shoplifting or a DUI.

Other problems arise if you have made frequent trips outside of the United States.  If you have travelled to your home country often, you will need to account for the number of trips and the number of days for each trip on your application. You will need to meet the:

  • Continuous residency test;
  • Physical presence test.

If you have travelled frequently, consult with an immigration attorney before applying for U.S. citizenship.

Another issue frequently encountered, especially for older people, is having to pass the English and Civics test. The EXEMPTIONS are:

  • You can exempt the English test and take your Civics questions in your home country language if you have been in the United States as a lawful permanent resident for 20 years and are 50 years old or older. This is known as the 20/50 rule.
  • You cannot exempt the Civics test, but you will be given special consideration if you have been in the United States as a lawful permanent resident for 20 years and you are 65 years old or older.  This is known as the 20/65 rule.
  • If you qualify for the 20/65 rule you can take the test in your native language and study 20 questions instead of 100.

We, at the Law Offices of Alice Vacek Aranda PLLC, an experienced Phoenix immigration attorney, prepare a good application for you, advise you of how to handle all your issues so as to present your facts in the most favorable light.  We also attend the interview with you to protect you if anything goes the wrong way.

Immigration law is complicated and there are many ways that the situation can go wrong.  It is highly advisable that you consult with an attorney.  While we have tried to explain the basic process on our website, nothing on our website should be taken as legal advice.  Everybody’s situation is different and that is why it is important to speak with an attorney before filing, as a mistake could be costly.

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