Getting a green card is not the same thing as becoming a US citizen. After getting your green card, you still need to go through the US naturalization process.
Everyone is hopeful that the road to becoming a citizen will be smooth, but there are some major mistakes – that we see time and again – that can either stop or significantly slow down naturalization. Here are the worst mistakes you can make, followed by a list of our tips for success.
- WHY IS FORGETTING TO GET YOUR CHILDREN NATURALIZED SUCH A HUGE ERROR?
- DERIVATIVE CITIZENSHIP AND THE CHILD CITIZENSHIP ACT OF 2000
- WHEN YOU FACE CRIMINAL CHARGES BEFORE NATURALIZATION
- AVOID ISSUES BY NATURALIZING YOUR CHILDREN EARLY
- TOP FIVE TIPS FOR A SUCCESSFUL NATURALIZATION AFTER YOUR GREEN CARD
#1 – The top mistake is forgetting to get your children naturalized
All parents want to protect their children. But all parents make mistakes.
So many mothers and fathers fail to take care of getting their children naturalized. This is the worst mistake in the naturalization process. And the real shame of it, almost always, is that the error is unintentional.
Say you’re a green card holder. You’ve possessed lawful residence in the United States since early youth. Your parents successfully completed the naturalization process when you were a child. However, they inadvertently neglected to take care of securing your citizenship back then.
Perhaps you may be eligible for derivative citizenship. This process may be conferred automatically on green card holders who meet certain conditions. There have been various rules on the derivative naturalization process through the generations. Depending on your age, different rules apply.
What is Derivative Citizenship and the Child Citizenship Act of 2000?
So what is derivative citizenship? It is U.S. citizenship given to children who:
- Have green cards and
- Whose parents become naturalized U.S. citizens, or
- In recent years, to foreign-born children adopted by U.S. citizen parents, if certain conditions are met.
The most recent development occurred through The Child Citizenship Act of 2000. This law went into effect on February 27, 2001. Kids who met the requirements below on or after that date automatically became American citizens.
You may be able to show that you became a United States Citizen if you:
- Have a mother or father who was a citizen by birth or naturalization
- Were under 18
- Live in the custody of the American citizen parent AND
- Have a green card
#2 The second worst mistake is when youth face criminal charges before US naturalization
The second worst mistake in the naturalization process occurs when these same young people face arrests and criminal charges before they have been naturalized.
It’s at that time that parents often discover that arrests and criminal charges result in deportation and detention cases for those children, who are no longer the babies brought here lawfully so many years before. We have written a blog post about how to deal with criminal charges before getting a green card here.
MILLIONS OF IMMIGRANTS WITH GREEN CARDS HAVE FACED DEPORTATION FOR TROUBLE WITH THE POLICE, WHEN THEY COULD HAVE AVOIDED IMMIGRATION PROBLEMS BY GOING THROUGH THE NATURALIZATION PROCESS AT A YOUNGER AGE.
The Naturalization Process is the Best Protection.
While it sounds like an easy road to just “become naturalized” derivative citizenship is actually very complicated. Talk to the best immigration lawyer you can find to avoid any further issues.
TIPS TO AVOID THE MOST COMMON MISTAKES THAT CAN CAUSE YOUR NATURALIZATION TO BE DENIED OR TAKE LONGER:
- Don’t apply too early: you have to wait five years (OR THREE YEARS in certain marriage based green card cases) from when you got a Green Card and obtained lawful permanent resident status before you can apply for naturalization.
- Don’t lie: If you get caught in a lie, you will not get your citizenship and there could be severe legal consequences, or you may be deported. If you have a difficult situation like criminal activity, consult with an immigration lawyer to help. Don’t try to lie your way out of it.
- Pay the correct filing fee. Make sure you are paying the correct amount as these fees can change from time to time.N-400 information can be found here.
- Don’t forget to submit translations of all documents in foreign languages. Make sure you make photocopies of any original documents, and translations into English.
- If you have been denied naturalization, do NOT resubmit application without fixing the errors. Make sure you know why you were denied. If you don’t understand why you were denied, you need to get professional legal help from a lawyer who understands immigration law before proceeding.For more information on what you need to pass your Naturalization test, click here.
Once you are naturalized you should be done with any Immigration Service encounters. That said, USCIS did announce in 2018 that they are doing reviews of cases regarding immigrants ordered deported who are suspected of using false identities to acquire green cards and citizenship through naturalization.
All the more reason to find A TOP IMMIGRATION LAWYER.