US Citizenship Explained

US Citizenship, American Flag

United States of America. Citizenship is conferred upon swearing allegiance to the flag.

The first step to acquiring United States Citizenship and a U.S. Passport is usually acquiring lawful permanent residence in the U.S., through family, employment, or refugee petition or through the Immigration DV Lottery. In order to apply for a U.S. passport, you must first be a citizen, either by birth, application or as a matter of law.

Naturalization is the process that the U.S. confers citizenship upon a foreign citizen or national after he or she fulfills the requirements established by Congress in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). The general requirements for administrative naturalization include:

  • A period of continuous residence and physical presence in the United States;
  • Residence in a particular USCIS District prior to filing;
  • An ability to read, write, and speak English;
  • Knowledge and understanding of U.S. history and government;
  • Good moral character;
  • Attachment to the principles of the U.S. Constitution;
  • Favorable disposition toward the United States;
  • An ability to pass the examination which is conducted in person at a U.S. Citizenship interview.

The other naturalization requirements may be modified or waived for certain applicants, such as spouses of U.S. citizens, members of the military, adoptive and natural children, ministers, and certain other individuals.

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3 Steps for Preparing an Approvable Immigration Waiver

There are 3 steps involved in preparing an approvable immigration waiver:

Immigration waiver application

Prepare your immigration waiver carefully.

  1. You must first have a valid visa application or immigrant petition that is approved or approvable.  If filing a provisional waiver, you must first pay the entire immigrant visa fees prior to filing the waiver.
  2. If a waiver is requested prior to the denial of an application, you must look carefully at the reason for the ground of inadmissibility, which you are charged with.   You may attack this on its face. as in some cases, this charge should never have been  filed.
  3. You must file the relevant application (usually Forms I-601, I-601A Provisional Waiver or I-212) with a brief in support of the application explaining in a very detailed way all of the relevant reasons that your waiver should be ranted, including the effect that separation from your U.S. Citizen or lawful permanent resident family member would have on him or her, and also the effect on your U.S. Citizen or lawful permanent resident family member should he or she be forced to travel with you and live in your home country for 3 to 10 years, or more.

Read also: The Top 5 Reasons You May Need an Immigration Waiver for Your Case

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The Top 5 Reasons You May Need an Immigration Waiver for Your Case

approveWhen Visas and Waivers Mix

There are many reasons why an immigrant visa applicant might need a waiver in order for his or her visa or petition to be successfully presented and approved by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, Department of State, or Customs and Border Protection.   The top 5 reasons to need an immigration waiver for your case, are as follows:

  1. You have overstayed your visa in the United States for more than six months recently or in the past, and you have unknowingly or knowingly triggered the bar to reenter the U.S.  by departing and traveling abroad. This means you will not be able to reenter the U.S. for 3 years or more unless you obtain a waiver.
  2. You have overstayed your visa in the United States for more than one year, and you have unknowingly or knowingly triggered the bar to reenter the U.S.  by departing and traveling abroad. This means that you will not be able to reenter the U.S. for 10 years or more unless you obtain a waiver.
  3. You have entered the U.S. illegally without a visa at all, and then departed the U.S., and triggered bar to reentry, or you have married a United States Citizen and wish to become a lawful permanent resident through that marriage and to apply while living in the United States for a provisional waiver stateside.
  4. You have committed fraud or a crime and now seek to become a lawful permanent resident through a family or business petition on your behalf.
  5. You have been deported or excluded from the U.S. and seek to renter or to obtain your residence in the U.S.

Get Help with Your Immigration Waiver

It is very important that you consult counsel to provide you with a detailed preliminary analysis of your case prior to filing any applications with the government.  The filing of a waiver is a multi-step process fraught with potential pitfalls.    Any filing with immigration could have serious consequences, and it is important to remember that even if you have a valid family or business relationship, any application can be denied by the government, especially in the examples noted above, as a visa is viewed as a privilege, not a right.

Most cases involving immigration decision -making involve tremendous discretion. This means that the examiner or officer looking at your case has a lot of authority but he or she must also follow the guidance of the immigration laws, regulations, and operations instructions and an attorney in most cases can represent you.

Sometimes the reason for the denial can be overcome by submitting additional evidence, writing a good brief (or letter) supported by factual evidence that overcomes the reasons for denial, or filing a waiver. A waiver can be defined as a discretionary pardon or forgiveness for an immigration or criminal violation.

Read also: 3 Steps for Preparing an Approvable Immigration Waiver

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Political Asylum in the United States of America

Political Asylum and Relief under the Convention Against Torture

Asylum is a form of protection granted to individuals in the United States who have been persecuted or fear they will be persecuted on account of their race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. Individuals who meet this definition of a refugee and who are already in the United States or who are seeking entry into the United States at a port of entry may qualify for a protective grant of asylum or safe haven and be permitted to remain in the United States as long as they are not barred from either applying for or being granted asylum. Individuals who are granted asylum are eligible to apply to adjust their status to that of a lawful permanent resident after one year has passed

Political Asylum

Political can be a daunting effort

Unlike the U.S. Refugee Program, which governs applications made outside of the U.S. and thereby provides protection to refugees by bringing them to the United States for resettlement, the U.S. Asylum Program provides protection to qualified applicants who are already in the United States or are seeking entry into the United States at a port of entry. Asylum-seekers may apply for asylum in the United States regardless of their countries of origin and regardless of their current immigration status. There are no quotas on the number of individuals who may be granted asylum each year.

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Family Law – Help with Fiancé and Marriage Visas


Fiancé and Marriage and Visas

United States Citizens and Residents may marry and bring their respective spouses to the United States to live with them permanently.

United States Citizens may also petition for their fiancés to join them in the U.S.


Applications for fiancé or marriage visas are not automatic or absolute and require applications and evidence carefully documenting the nature and validity of the relationship, otherwise known as the “bona fides”. At Leslie Snyder, PA immigration offices, we have a long standing record of sifting to these intricacies successfully.

Immigrant Visas

Immigrant visas are immediately available for the spouse of a United States Citizen or Cuban national who is a lawful permanent resident of the United States. Applications are necessary, including the immigrant petition for alien relative and applications for adjustment of status, if the alien is currently residing in the U.S. and has entered the U.S. with a visa or visa waiver.

Fiancé Visas

Non-immigrant visas for the spouse of a U.S.Citizen (K-3) or for the fiancé of a United States Citizen (K-1) must be filed and the visa must be issued in the country where the fiancé is residing. After the visa process has been completed, and the visa is issued, the fiancé or spouse can travel to the United States, either to marry and then file the necessary applications in the case of the fiancé, or to await the processing of the immigrant visa case. Two petitions are required.

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