Do I Have to Use an Attorney to Apply for Citizenship in the US?

Today is Constitution Day and Citizenship Day in the United States! The day marks the signing of the U.S. Constitution on September 17, 1787. It is also a day to recognize those who have become U.S. citizens (though here at Sumner Immigration Law, we celebrate those every day!).

Many times clients or prospective clients ask if they need an attorney to apply for citizenship. I cannot make that decision for another person of course, but these are the key issues to consider before filing for naturalization on your own:

  1. Do you have a criminal history of any kind? Even a seemingly small offense can be enough not only for the citizenship application to be denied, but also for USCIS to initiate removal proceedings against you, depending on the crime and other factors.
  2. Do you clearly meet the continuous residence and physical presence requirements? If you do not clearly meet these requirements but fall under certain exceptions, your application process may be smoother if you have an experienced attorney help you clearly outline these arguments and the corresponding law.
  3. Are you confident that you can correctly and accurately complete the application? Although the application itself is one of the more straightforward forms among the immigration forms, it is long. A mistake or inaccuracy can cause a delay in the processing of your case, or in some cases can cause an erroneous denial.
  4. Do you have a complicated immigration history that includes previous immigration violations, or is your immigration history so complicated that it’s not immediately clear if you have previous immigration violations?

Many people successfully file the application on their own. However, if you have a complication in your criminal or immigration history, or if you do not feel confident filing on your own, using an experienced immigration attorney can not only smooth the process, avoiding costly delays and potential dangers, but may allow you to sleep better at night during the process as well!