The immigration process in the U.S. is far from easy. No matter which aspect of immigration you are pursuing, you are likely to meet with complex rules that leave no room for error. If you are ready to begin the path to citizenship through naturalization, you may find the way just as challenging. You would be wise to take advantage of legitimate resources who can provide you with help along the way.
Your first step toward naturalization is to understand the eligibility requirements for citizenship. Residency is one rule in particular that causes trouble for some in your situation. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has recently clarified its policies related to residency, and you may benefit from understanding how this may affect your quest for citizenship.
Qualifying for naturalization
To become a U.S. citizen through naturalization, you must prove that you will be an asset to the country. This includes showing evidence that you can communicate using English, that you have a fundamental grasp of how the country's government works and that you promise to defend the U.S. if necessary. The USCIS will also want to know that you have good moral character, so they will check for a criminal record and any signs that you are not being truthful on your application.
However, it is the residency requirement that may bring your approval to a halt. The government requires you to have lived in the U.S. for at least five continuous years before you apply for naturalization or three years if you are the spouse of a U.S. citizen. If you leave the U.S. for longer than six months, the USCIS will consider that you have broken the continuity, and you must start over to build your residency.
What can I do?
USCIS agents will investigate the continuity of your residency in the U.S. If they discover you have been out of the country for longer than six months, this may be a devastating setback, perhaps delaying for years your eligibility to re-apply for naturalization.
Many quickly learn that the rules for achieving their goals through the immigration system can be overwhelming to someone who has little experience and may even have a disadvantage because of a language barrier. Because of this, they reach out to a New Jersey attorney who has considerable experience assisting others through the process. An attorney can advocate for your best interests and help you through the challenges the process may present.