The application process for U.S. citizenship can be complex and rigorous. It typically involves completing a number of forms from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS), especially the application form, N-400, and producing documents that the USCIS uses in determining a person’s eligibility for naturalization. It may be helpful to work with an immigration lawyer for assistance in preparing a citizenship application and the supporting documents.
The following is a citizenship document checklist that may help a person figure out which documents they need to support their application. Please note that each citizenship application is unique and the documents needed depend on the history and circumstances of the person applying.
Some of the documents listed here may not apply to every person’s situation. For example, if an applicant does not have children, then child support would not be an issue and documents related to child support would not be required. If a person has no criminal record, then that simplifies the process measurably.
It is almost important to note that producing the necessary documents is not the only requirement for citizenship. A person seeking to become a citizen must meet the following requirements:
- Being at least 18 years old,
- Having current permanent resident status,
- Being able to read, write and speak elementary English,
- Having a basic knowledge of American history and government,
- Having resided continuously in the U.S. for at least 5 years as a permanent resident before filing an application for citizenship,
- Having been physically present in the U.S. for at least 30 months in the 5 years before the date of filing the application for citizenship,
- Being of good moral character,
- Having lived for at least 3 months in the state where the person applies and
- Having spent no more than one year at a time outside the U.S.
Producing the documents listed below is only part of the application process.
When preparing an application for citizenship, a person may wish to present the following documents to a lawyer for review and inclusion in the person’s application:
- Documents regarding the person’s personal information:
- A valid Permanent Resident Card, or “green card”;
- Two color photographs showing a 3/4 frontal view of their face, to be presented with the application;
- Any documents regarding name changes and explanations of the name changes. For example,
- if a person changed their surname after a divorce, they may need to provide a copy of the divorce decree; if a person has no name changes in their history, then this would not apply;
- A completed USCIS Form G-325B, “Biographic Information”
- Proof that a person has maintained U.S. residence during periods of travel outside the U.S. lasting 6 months or longer. For this purpose, a person may use lease agreements, utility payments, rent receipts, proof of mortgage payments and the like;
- Proof of the citizenship of the person’s spouse during the last 3 years, if the person is applying for citizenship based on marriage to a U.S. citizen. This may be supported by the following documents for the citizen spouse:
- Documents related to the person’s current marital status:
- Documents regarding military service:
- From N-426, the “Request for Certification of Military or Naval Service” form;
- A “Status Information Letter” must be obtained from the U.S. Selective Service, if the person is a male between the ages of 18 and 26 who has not registered with the Selective Service;
- Various tax-related documents:
- IRS Tax Form 1722; this form lists a person’s tax information for the past 3 to 5 years;
- Copies of any income tax returns that a person filed in the past 3 to 5 years; if a person failed to file any income tax returns, they will have to provide copies of any correspondences with the IRS regarding the missed returns;
- Any signed agreements that the person has entered into with federal, state, or local tax authorities regarding their compliance with arrangements for tax payments;
- Documents regarding child support or spousal support:
- Copies of child support orders or spousal support orders that a person is legally required to pay,
- Evidence that a person has paid all court-ordered child and spousal support, such as pay stubs or check receipts;
- Documents pertaining to criminal records:
- Copies of court dispositions for any arrests or detentions by any police or immigration authorities; statements confirming whether or not charges were filed;
- Any sentencing records for criminal convictions;
- Records showing satisfactory completion of any sentences that were imposed for criminal convictions;
- Any court orders that expunge, set aside, vacate, or dispose of a conviction or arrest
- Other documents:
- Form N-648: If a person claims exemption from the testing requirement due to a disability, they must file a From N-648, “Medical Certification for Disability Exceptions. This must be completed by a licensed physician;
- Form G-28, “Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney or Representative,” if a person is represented by an attorney;
- Any other forms, certificates, or documents that may be specifically requested by USCIS.
As is evident from this list, the citizenship documents checklist is quite extensive. Depending on a person’s situation, It could take several weeks or even months to collect all these documents and fill out all the required forms. Therefore, a person should plan accordingly so as not to miss any filing deadlines. It is advisable not to wait until the last minute.
What If the Requirements for Citizenship Documents Are Not Followed?
If the requirements for documents to support an application for citizenship are not met, it could have a serious, negative effect on a person’s application. It could result in denial of a person’s application for citizenship.
For example, if there has been any instance of fraud, misrepresentation, or falsification of documents, a person can be certain that their application will be denied. Even worse, the person may suffer legal consequences, such as criminal charges for immigration fraud or falsification of documents.
A person can even be denied the right to appeal or disqualified from applying again in the future. Any errors in citizenship documents, even unintentional ones, are closely investigated to determine if there has been an attempt to defraud or deceive immigration authorities.
It is especially important for a person to disclose any information regarding a past criminal history. Even charges that were dismissed or expunged need to be disclosed in a person’s forms and documents. While certain crimes are viewed seriously, not all crimes will prevent an applicant from becoming naturalized.
How Can a Lawyer Help with Citizenship Documents?
Working with an immigration attorney can be of real assistance when you are preparing documents to support your citizenship application. Your lawyer can go over your citizenship documents checklist with you and help to ensure that all of the necessary documents are ready.
Also, your attorney can explain the technical requirements for success with an application for citizenship. Providing documents is not the only requirement in the immigration laws. An attorney can help you prepare a complete application and increase your chances of success.