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How do you qualify for naturalization?

If you are from a foreign country and wish to become a citizen of the United States, you should be aware of all your options. Naturalization is one of those options, and is granted to foreign citizens who have met the requirements created in the Immigration and Nationality Act. If you do indeed meet the requirements, you are able to apply for citizenship by taking a naturalization test. 

One way to meet the requirements set by Congress to apply for naturalization is to have lived in the country for a minimum of five years and meet all of the other requirements as stated. These include the following:

How difficult is the naturalization test?

As a legal immigrant living in Illinois, you may be thinking about becoming a U.S. citizen, but hesitate to take the naturalization test, fearing that it will be too difficult for you to successfully pass. You will be happy to know that if you already speak and read passable English, you should have very little difficulty passing this test the first time you take it.

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services explains that the naturalization test consists of two parts, an English test and an American civics test. Your first step will be to contact the USCIS, fill out the interview application, and schedule your initial interview. At that interview the USCIS agent will ask you questions about your background and your application to become a U.S. citizen. You should know, however, that the purpose of this interview is not to be nosy, but rather to give the agent the opportunity to talk with you — in English — and discover how well you understand and can speak the English language. Once you complete your initial interview, you then will schedule your English and civics tests.

Families, businesses across Chicago fear immigration raids

For many families and business owners across Chicago and surrounding parts of Illinois, the threat of immigration raids is a seemingly constant one. Many immigrant families and business owners would be wise to prepare themselves for such raids, given the current presidential administration’s plans to move ahead with deportation roundups. According to CBS Chicago, immigration activists have ramped up their efforts to connect with immigrant communities in recent days so they can inform as many immigrants as possible about their legal rights.

Immigrants with criminal backgrounds will likely be among the administration’s first targets, and immigrant activists are warning them against doing anything that could potentially hurt their situations, such as signing any documents they do not fully understand. Activists and immigration attorneys are also cautioning against opening doors to anyone who claims to work for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement without first verifying not only who they are, but that they have a warrant with them.

Denials of U.S. immigrant visas on the rise

As someone hoping to immigrate to Illinois or another part of the United States, or conversely, as someone looking to help a family member immigrate to the United States, you may face an uphill battle. At Francis Law Center, we recognize that a recent, largely unpublicized rule change may make it harder than ever for immigrants to pursue their paths to citizenship, and we have helped many people navigating similar issues pursue solutions that meet their needs.

According to Reuters, a rule change took effect in late 2018 that is making it even harder for people to immigrate to the United States, and people looking to immigrate from Mexico may find that they are increasingly likely to have their visa requests denied. The new rule change allows the government to deny visas if the U.S. State Department believes that applicants may ultimately end up becoming “public charges,” meaning they may need to utilize government services in order to get by and support themselves while here.

What does the 10-step naturalization process entail?

Once you have determined that you meet all of the necessary requirements to begin working on the naturalization process for becoming a U.S. citizen in Illinois, it is time to embark on your journey. Being aware of what the process entails before you even begin may help you to be better prepared and more confident as you work toward your overall goal of becoming a citizen of the United States of America. 

According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the first two steps require you to verify that you are not already a U.S. citizen and that you have met the necessary requirements to continue your application for naturalization. Next, you will need to fill out the Form N-400 in its entirety and submit it along with the requested supporting documents. Depending on your situation, a biometrics appointment may be required before you can continue the process. Once that has been accomplished, you will need to complete your interview.

Preparing to petition for immigration

When people are preparing to petition for immigration in the United States, their commitment to paying attention to the details and following the steps in sequence may allow them to accomplish their objective more efficiently. On occasion, immigrant families in Illinois may want to file a petition on behalf of relatives who do not live in the United States. While it is allowed, families should be thorough in following the process to give their family member the best shot at being approved. 

As soon as the desire to file a petition is recognized, people should begin inquiring about what they can do to support their objective. They should do what they can to learn about the American culture and the English language, as well as be sure they have acquired the proper documentation that will be required throughout the submittal process. Doing anything out of sync or only providing partial information may not only prolong the process but could greatly slow or even compromise a person's chances of being approved. 

Legal immigrant children may be displaced from homes

Many people in Illinois and across the nation have been watching the shifting tide and actions regarding immigrants and how they are treated in the U.S. since the last presidential election. Despite being a nation all but built on immigration, there can be a sense that today's administration is working against immigrants. A recently announced plan concerning public housing options for immigrants raises that feeling again.

As reported by The Washington Post, the U.S. government has for some time offered financial assistance to immigrants so they may be able to live in public housing units. This assistance has been available to families in which not all residence occupants are legal immigrants. For example, adults may not legally be in the U.S. but their children may have been born here and are therefore U.S. citizens. These people have to date been able to live in public housing thanks to the subsidies.

Proposal aims to expand deportation laws

According to Reuters, the Trump administration is looking into expanding current laws that allow for the deportation of immigrants who utilize public benefits. While this law has been in place for some time, it's rarely used unless an immigrant has a pre-existing issue for which they require help but failed to disclose it upon entry into the country or they fail to repay benefits when requested.

Many people who are in possession of green cards are entitled to benefits to purchase food or receive medical care for themselves or their children. This includes refugees, who are allowed entry into this country due to fears about personal safety in their countries of origin. Typical benefits include food stamps, supplemental income for people who are older or disabled, housing vouchers, Medicaid, and cash assistance programs to help families who lack sufficient income. On the federal level, most immigrants would be immune to deportation measures. This is because benefits aren't usually made available until five years after admission, and the new legislation states that only immigrants who receive public benefits during the first five years of admission would be subject to the law. 

Legality and morality of potential plan in question

Many people in Illinois know someone who has come to the United States from another country or who was raised by parents who came to the U.S. from another nation. Immigration is, in many ways, an essential building block of modern American society. Yet, today, immigration may well be on the fast track to becoming one of the hottest political topics around.

The current federal administration has not been shy in making clear its view that there are too many people entering the U.S., especially from Mexico or countries to the south of Mexico in Central America. The government has indicated a desire to curb the number of people allowed into the country, especially illegally. This view and approach has drawn criticism from many groups including some municipalities, counties and states.

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