Becoming a U.S. Citizen in Spokane

Becoming a U.S. citizen in Spokane is not only possible, but preferable. It is also a crucial step toward security and independence — and is a good idea for every immigrant, depending on eligibility.

Citizenship can be a wonderful thing. It confers a long list of rights on its holder, including the right not to be deported. Green-card holders don’t have that security. If you’re convicted of a crime in the U.S. but you’re not a citizen, you could find yourself on a plane headed back to your country of origin — with a one-way ticket.

This usually won’t happen to a legal immigrant who obtains citizenship. Yes, you can lose your citizen status in a process called “denaturalization,” but the government rarely goes to this extreme except in cases of fraud, i.e. you became a citizen under false pretenses, or if it turns out you’re a spy.

For the most part, once a U.S. citizen, always a U.S. citizen. That security can be nice to have. But there are other good reasons, too, for joining the citizenship club.

Benefits of citizenship

As a citizen, you’ll be eligible to vote in local, state, and federal U.S. elections. No longer  a bystander in political affairs, you may help choose your elected officials and determine public policy. You can even write to your representatives urging them to vote a certain way, and, as a citizen, you’ll have more influence.

As a citizen, you’ll enjoy all the freedoms the U.S. Constitution guarantees, including the right to bear arms.

You’ll also have the right to leave the United States as often, and for as long, as you wish. Green-card holders face a “use-it-or-lose-it” situation when it comes to residency: Be gone for more than six months at a time or for a total of one year within a two-year time period, and you may find the government has hit the “reset” button on your waiting period for naturalization. That means you might have to start the 5-year clock all over again.

Citizens, however, need not concern themselves with calendars and reset buttons. Becoming a U.S. citizen allows you to remain outside the country for decades and return without complications. And citizenship, unlike residency, lasts a lifetime: you won’t need to file for renewal every 10 years.

With so many advantages, why don’t more people opt for citizenship? For many, it’s a matter of loyalty — they’re already a citizen somewhere else, and do not want to severe ties with their home country. In most cases, they will not have to: the U.S. government allows dual citizenship.

And if you’re already a citizen of two other countries? You’ll have to make a choice. The U.S. does not permit triple citizenship. One of my clients was already a citizen of the Philippines and Canada, but wanted to become a U.S. citizen, too. To do so, he had to give up one of his other countries. As the saying goes, two is company — but three is a crowd.

Becoming a U.S. Citizen in Spokane – Eligibility Requirements

Chances are, if you have a residency (green) card, and your criminal record is clean, you will not have trouble becoming a U.S. citizen. To do so in Spokane, you must have residency in the area/region assigned to the Spokane service office.

If you came to the United States through marriage, you can apply for citizenship after only three years of obtaining residency — if your spouse petitions on your behalf, and if you pass the government’s background check. Essentially, if you haven’t been convicted of any crimes, you’ve filed all your income tax returns, and you are still married to the spouse you came to this country to join, your passage to citizenship should be fairly smooth.

If you and your citizen-spouse have divorced, however, you’ll need to wait five years after achieving residency to apply for citizenship —the same as legal residents who are not married to a citizen. Minors can become citizens as soon as their parents do, unless they turn 21 during the waiting period, in which case they’ll have to wait five years after arriving and obtaining residency.

Language can pose a formidable barrier to applicants. The U.S. requires most would-be citizens to demonstrate assimilation into our culture by passing an American history test — in English. The very thought of taking this test intimidates many, but a good attorney can help guide you through it.

For instance, did you know that the U.S. will make some exceptions to the English-language test? Residents age 50 and older who have lived in the U.S. for 20 years may be allowed to take the test in their native language. The same holds true for those over 55 who have lived here for 15 years.

If you’ve been in this country for at least three to five years and you’re not a citizen, then isn’t it time to do so? If you plan to remain here, give yourself some peace of mind and become an American. A good attorney may smooth the process, and advocate for you when and where. Quiroga Law Office specializes in immigration law and naturalization, and will be there with you every step of the way.

Don’t wait a minute longer to claim your rights: Call Quiroga Law Office today at (509) 927-3840 and take the first step toward U.S. citizenship. You will be glad you did.

Becoming a U.S. Citizen in Spokane | Copyrighted Material of the Quiroga Law Office, PLLC