Tampa Naturalization / Citizenship Lawyer

Start the Path to Becoming an American Citizen

Becoming a U.S. citizen is a significant milestone that opens the door to numerous benefits and opportunities, but navigating the process is anything but easy.

At Brown Immigration Law, our award-winning attorneys have spent decades helping individuals, families, and businesses navigate the U.S. immigration system and its numerous processes and procedures. If you’re looking to become an official citizen through naturalization, we have the insight, experience, and resources to help. 

Brown Immigration Law proudly serves clients across Hillsborough County, Florida, and beyond. To request a consultation with one of our Tampa naturalization attorneys, call (813) 791-7535 or contact us online.

What Is Naturalization?

Naturalization is the process by which a non-U.S. citizen voluntarily becomes an American citizen. While some individuals acquire citizenship by birth, others achieve it through the naturalization process. This legal procedure allows lawful permanent residents (green card holders) to obtain U.S. citizenship after meeting certain requirements.

Eligibility Requirements for Naturalization

To qualify for naturalization, applicants must meet several criteria, including:

  • Age: Must be at least 18 years old.
  • Lawful Permanent Resident Status: Must have been a green card holder for at least five years (or three years if married to a U.S. citizen).
  • Continuous Residence: Must have lived continuously in the U.S. as a lawful permanent resident for at least five years.
  • Physical Presence: Must have been physically present in the U.S. for at least 30 months within the five-year period.
  • Good Moral Character: Must demonstrate good moral character, which includes a background check and review of your history.

The Naturalization Process

  1. Preparation and Form N-400: The process begins with completing Form N-400, Application for Naturalization. Gathering necessary documents and evidence is crucial at this stage.
  2. Biometrics Appointment: After submitting Form N-400, you will receive a notice for a biometrics appointment. This involves fingerprinting and photographing for a background check.
  3. Naturalization Interview and Test: You will be scheduled for an interview with a USCIS officer. During the interview, you will take the citizenship test, which includes English language and civics components.
  4. Decision from USCIS: USCIS will review your application, test results, and interview performance before making a decision. If approved, you will be scheduled for a naturalization ceremony.
  5. Oath of Allegiance Ceremony: The final step is attending the Oath of Allegiance ceremony, where you will take the oath and receive your Certificate of Naturalization, officially becoming a U.S. citizen.

Citizenship Test Preparation

The naturalization test consists of two parts: English and civics. The English test assesses your ability to read, write, and speak basic English. The civics test covers important U.S. history and government topics.

To help you prepare, we provide:

  • Comprehensive study guides and materials
  • Practice tests and quizzes
  • Tips and strategies for effective study habits

We also recommend attending preparation classes or using USCIS-provided resources to ensure you are well-prepared for the test.

Common Challenges and How We Help

Navigating the naturalization process can be complex, with various potential challenges such as:

  • Gathering and preparing necessary documentation
  • Understanding legal requirements and procedures
  • Preparing for the naturalization interview and test

At Brown Immigration Law, our experienced attorneys provide personalized assistance to help you overcome these obstacles. We offer:

  • Detailed guidance on document preparation
  • One-on-one help with interview and test preparation
  • Legal representation throughout the process to address any issues that may arise

Special Considerations and Exceptions in the U.S. Naturalization Process

While there are general eligibility requirements for naturalization, there are some exceptions and special considerations for certain individuals. For example:

Military Service Members

Non-citizen U.S. service members may be eligible for expedited naturalization, depending on the nature of their service:

  • Active Duty During Hostile Periods: U.S. military members who served honorably during designated periods of hostilities, such as post-September 11, 2001, can apply for expedited naturalization. They are also exempt from the continuous residence and physical presence requirements.
  • Peacetime Service: Military members who have served honorably for at least one year during peacetime can apply for naturalization while still serving or within six months of discharge. They must meet the continuous residence requirement for one year but are exempt from the five-year requirement.

In addition, surviving spouses, children, and parents of U.S. citizen service members may be eligible for naturalization if their loved one dies during honorable service. 

Spouses of U.S. Citizens

Spouses of U.S. citizens can also benefit from expedited naturalization through requirement exemptions. For example:

  • Three-Year Rule: Spouses of U.S. citizens can apply for naturalization after three years of continuous residence in the U.S. as lawful permanent residents, instead of the usual five years. They must have been living in marital union with their U.S. citizen spouse for those three years.
  • Spouses of Military Members: Spouses of U.S. citizen service members who are stationed abroad can apply for expedited naturalization. They are exempt from the continuous residence and physical presence requirements. The applicant must be living with their U.S. citizen spouse abroad under official military orders.

Other Exceptions and Special Considerations for U.S. Naturalization

  • Age / Testing Language Exceptions: Applicants aged 50 or older who have lived in the U.S. as lawful permanent residents for at least 20 years, or those aged 55 or older with at least 15 years of residency, can take the civics test in their native language. 
  • Disability Accommodations: Applicants with physical or developmental disabilities or mental impairments that prevent them from meeting the English and civics requirements may be eligible for exemptions or accommodations.
  • Religious Worker / International Organization Worker Residence Exceptions: Certain religious workers, employees of recognized international organizations, and their spouses and children may be exempt from the continuous residence requirement if they are working abroad.

Naturalization FAQ

How Long Does the Naturalization Process Take?

The process typically takes between 8 to 12 months, depending on various factors such as USCIS workload and the completeness of your application. Working with an attorney to ensure a complete and accurate application can help you avoid mistakes that increase processing time. 

Can I Apply for Naturalization if I Have a Criminal Record?

It depends on the nature of the crime and how long ago it occurred. Our attorneys can review your case to determine your eligibility.

What Happens if I Fail the Naturalization Test?

You will have another opportunity to take the test, usually within 60 to 90 days. We can help you prepare to improve your chances of passing.

Do I Need an Attorney to Apply for Naturalization?

While it is possible to apply on your own, having an experienced attorney can help immensely when it comes to gathering needed documentation, completing applications, and preparing for critical parts of the process, such as interviews and tests. 

Call to Request a Consultation: (813) 791-7535

Brown Immigration Law is passionate about helping clients make their dream of U.S. citizenship come true. From evaluating your eligibility to helping you complete the necessary paperwork, prepare your application, and navigate the process, we’re ready to provide the step-by-step support you need to apply for naturalization and pursue citizenship.

To learn more about our firm, our services, and how we can help you, call (813) 791-7535 or contact us online.

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