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How Long Does It Take to Become a U.S. Citizen (And Mistakes to Avoid)

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For many people seeking a better life, immigration to the United States is the solution to their problems. 

Some benefits that immigrants enjoy after becoming U.S. citizens include fewer travel restrictions, eligibility for state jobs, ease of access to US government jobs, fewer risks of deportation, and health privileges.

But the process of becoming a U.S. citizen takes time. On average, it can take six months to a year for your citizenship application to be processed. The entire naturalization process can take up to 15 months on average.

Here’s the thing, though. This whole process can take an even longer time if you commit mistakes during the immigration process. 

And the real clincher here is that many of these typical immigration mistakes can be avoided with proper planning and foresight. 

To help you avoid these mistakes and inadvertently delay your immigration process, let’s first go through the typical mistakes immigrants make.

6 Immigration Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Want to become a US citizen? Then you should avoid the following pitfalls immigrants commit as they file their immigration applications.

Mistake #1: Rushing to Get Your Case on File

Knowing that immigration is a lengthy process, many people rush to get things started so that they can get their cases out the door.

As a result, they send out incomplete documents that further lengthen the application process. They also rush through the questions in the forms, leading them to answer incorrectly or miss out on some of them. 

Another common mistake we notice people make is not having a driver’s license with their proper address. This can lead to addressing inconsistencies that can significantly impact their case. If you commit this mistake, you might even be suspected of being untruthful just because you’re in a hurry to get things done.

Some people also ask their friends to fill out the forms on their behalf. Again, this can be a breeding ground for mistakes, especially if your friends are not knowledgeable in immigration law.

And finally, you might be filing their application too early. Believe it or not, doing so can also get your application denied!

So, don’t rush through the application. Ask the assistance of a licensed immigration attorney so you can go through a smooth, rush-free naturalization process. 

Mistake #2: Not Submitting Enough Evidence

As an immigrant, it’s your burden to demonstrate that you are entitled to the benefits you’re seeking. The USCIS Office shouldn’t have to do the work for you.

So when your evidence is too thin, you’re setting yourself up for failure. It might cause problems during the interview, delays in your case, or outright denial. That’s why you have to make sure you gather all the evidence requested by USCIS field offices.

Aside from the evidence requested in the forms, you also have to show proof that you’ve followed all the rules and laws concerning your non-immigrant visa status. 

If you’re about to tie the knot, you also have to submit supporting documents showing you’re legally eligible to marry. If applicable, you have to submit your marital history, including records of your divorces and widowed status.

And if you are married, you have to submit marital evidence. You can get a list of these requirements for free when you go to www.hackinglawpractice.com/marital-evidence.

You also have to submit accurate financial information. These include bank statements and tax returns that demonstrate your self-sufficiency and how you’re paying your taxes and following the rules. 

If you’re married, your financial info will also provide pictures of your life together and the co-mingling of your finances with your spouse.

Mistake #3: Not Practicing Enough for the Interview

Your interview may revolve around marriage-based questions if you are going through the green card process. Or, it will also involve U.S. citizenship questions.

During your naturalization interview, you’re going to sit across from a USCIS officer. They’re going to put you under oath, making you promise that everything you tell them is the truth. After that, they’re going to go through your application. If your case is straightforward, they’re simply going to go over the immigration forms and ask you questions about them.

One way to prepare for an interview is to get someone else to ask you the questions. After all, there’s a big difference between reading the questions on paper and having someone ask them aloud. Listening to the questions allows you to simulate the actual interview experience.

Remember, you don’t have to memorize the questions. You simply have to prepare and anticipate the questions that might be asked of you so that you don’t end up getting surprised during your interview.

Study your case. You must know the facts of your case and the benefits you’re seeking. You’ll be surprised at how many people seem not to know their case like the back of their hands.

And, of course, make sure to organize all your documents. Have the original and bring copies for your officer.

Better use the lengthy USCIS processing times to prepare for your interview.

Mistake #4: Talking Too Much During the Interview

The less you say, the better. After all, more talking leads to more questions. If you can answer a question with a yes or no, do just that and refrain from making unsolicited explanations.

Be specific with your answers. Don’t try to anticipate where the officer is headed. Remember, the interviewing officer knows what information to get. They will lead the interview, so be as concise as possible.

Having the right mindset matters, too. Remember that you’re there for a reason: you want to get your immigration benefit. You’ve complied with every rule and paid every fee. You have every right to be there, so be confident.

And during moments of silence, don’t feel the urge to fill the silence with nervous chatter. Let the silence be your chance to reset and pause. Treat it as your friend.

Mistake #5: Not Knowing Your Immigration History

Not noting what they’ve told USCIS officers in the past is a big no-no. It can be used against you during your interview.

They might highlight things you said during your prior visa applications. They might zero in on the inconsistencies of what you’re saying then and now.

That is why at our law firm, we don’t just talk about the application you’re applying for now. We also dig deep into your past applications. We want to ensure that what you’re saying now is consistent with your prior applications. Or at least have an excellent reason why things have changed during your naturalization process.

You need to know your immigrant history. How did you come to the United States? How have your statuses changed? When did you get your green card or permanent resident card? What are the dates for every change of your status? Did you commit any offense—and if so, how were you able to clear it?

You should be able to explain it clearly to your officer with proper documents supporting your claims.

Mistake #6: Not Asking for Help When Things Go Wrong

There are many factors why your naturalization application might get disapproved on the spot.

It can just be a matter of paperwork. It might be on the part of the officer—they might be busy or new, or they need to run the case past their supervisor.

Either way, you’ll know you need help when you receive a request for evidence or a notice of intent to deny.

A request for evidence means that something is missing from your case—like a document or information that USCIS needs before making a final decision.

A notice of intent to deny is more serious. This means the USCIS is leaning towards denying you the immigration benefit you’re seeking. 

Essentially, this is your one last chance—and you need attorney services to help you swim through the tide. 

Only a licensed lawyer specializing in citizenship and immigration services can give you the best fighting chance to become a lawful permanent resident even when you receive a notice of intent to deny.

In fact, it is best to have a licensed immigration attorney with you from the time you prepare your application until you take your oath as a U.S. citizen. 

This way, you have a knowledgeable person guiding you every step of the way, even helping you dodge delays that you could have avoided.

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How Long Does It Take to Become a US Citizen?

The United States citizenship process typically takes 15 months on average. But that’s just the processing of your citizenship application.

Before that, you first need to be a permanent resident or green card holder for at least five years. If you’re filing as a spouse of a U.S. citizen, a minimum of three years of residency will do.

You also need to meet certain eligibility requirements, such as being at least 18 years old at the time of your application, having the ability to read and write basic English, and being of good moral character.

Naturalization applications typically go through a 10-step process, which includes:

  • Determining your eligibility to become an American citizen
  • Completing the form N-400 and submitting your form online
  • Taking the U.S. naturalization test and citizenship interview

What’s Next?

Does the application process look intimidating and complex?

Don’t worry! We’ve got you!

We have licensed immigration attorneys to help you better understand the US citizenship process and guide you from the start to the completion of your U.S citizenship application. 

We’ll help you prepare for your interview, fill your forms correctly, and do other things necessary for you to become a U.S. citizen.

If you have other questions and concerns regarding our citizenship and immigration services, please reach out to us in Hacking Immigration, LLC. You can also e-mail us at [email protected].

Contact Us Today!

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