The Law Offices of Elsa Ayoub, P.L.L.C.

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Many green card holders do not apply for citizenship

Immigration waiting times have grown far longer in recent years, and the number of pending applications for U.S. citizenship submitted by green card holders in New York and around the country currently stands at almost 650,000. Many of these permanent residents are likely to be disappointed when they do hear from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services as about 78,000 applications for naturalization are denied each year.

Permanent residents at or over the age of 18 who have lived in the United States continuously for five years or longer can apply for naturalization. Some green card holders are denied U.S. citizenship because they are not able to communicate in English or fail a 100-question civics test. Others are denied naturalization because background investigations reveal that the applicant was convicted of a serious crime, has not paid income taxes in a timely manner, owes child support or provided false information to immigration services.

However, many of the nation's approximately 9 million legal permanent residents choose not to seek U.S. citizenship. While some green card holders are worried about what a background check could reveal or believe that they will be unable to pass the civics or English tests, many choose not to submit an N-400 Application for Naturalization form because of the costs involved. Those submitting the form must currently pay a $640 fee and $85 to cover the costs of photographs and fingerprinting. The Trump administration has proposed increasing the application fee to $1,170.

Attorneys with immigration law experience could help permanent resident who wish to apply for U.S. citizenship by explaining the application process, preparing them for the English and civics tests and ensuring that their paperwork is completed and submitted correctly. Attorneys could also assist green card holders who have been denied citizenship to submit an N-336 form to request a hearing.

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