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Citizenship in Miami, FL

The Miami immigration attorneys at Hubbs Law know how important citizenship and naturalization can be for non-U.S. citizens. Citizenship is the ultimate goal for many immigrants in the United States.  The United States has accommodated these individuals by accepting an average of 700,000 naturalization applications a year. 

In 2015 alone, the United States accepted 730,259 applications according to the Office of Immigration Statistics. 

Of these applications, there were approvals for Mexico (105,958), India (42,213), the Philippines (40,815), and the People’s Republic of China (31,241). The largest number of persons naturalizing per state were California (155,979), New York (90,368), and Florida (81,960).

Applications for naturalization, however, should not be filed without first seeking the advice of a qualified immigration attorney

While filing an application can lead to citizenship, it can also lead to deportation in certain cases. Therefore, it is very important to consider all factors prior to filing an application including your criminal and immigration history.

Citizenship for Legal Permanent Residents

If you have had your green card for a minimum of 5 years, you are eligible to apply for naturalization if you meet the following requirements:

    • You are 18 or older at the time of filing.
    • You have been a legal permanent resident for a minimum of 5 years prior to filing.  (The requirement can be limited to 3 years if you are married to a United States Citizen).
    • You have lived within the state, or USCIS jurisdiction, for a minimum of 3 months prior to the date of filing.
    • You have continuously resided in the United States as a legal permanent resident for a minimum of 5 years prior to the date of filing.
    • You have been physically present in the United States for at least 30 months out of the 5 years immediately preceding the date of filing the application.
    • You reside continuously within the United States from the date of application for naturalization up to the time of naturalization.
    • You are able read, write, and speak English and you can pass a U.S. history and government (civics) exam.
    • You are a person of good moral character.

Good Moral Character and Bars to Citizenship

Under the Immigration and Nationality Act, in order to qualify for naturalization, an applicant must demonstrate that he or she is a person of good character during the statutory period and through the time that he or she takes the oath of allegiance. 8 C.F.R. 316.10. 

The statutory period to prove good moral character in most cases is 5 years. However, certain criminal convictions can bar you from ever obtaining citizenship. 

If you are not a United States Citizen, you should always seek the advice of an immigration attorney with experience in criminal and immigration law prior to entering a plea to any criminal charge.

There are both mandatory and conditional bars.  Mandatory bars will always prevent you from obtaining citizenship.  The only remedy for a mandatory bar is to vacate the underlying criminal conviction and obtain a plea that does not bar naturalization.  Mandatory bars to good moral character are:

    • A conviction for murder.
    • A conviction for an aggravated felony (a list of aggravated felonies can be found under INA 101(a)(43).
    • The applicant is involved in persecution, genocide, torture, or severe violations of religious freedom.

Conditional bars to naturalization are not mandatory in nature.  However, they can still result in a denial of an application.  Conditional bars to good moral character are:

    • A conviction or admission of one or more crimes involving moral turpitude with the exception of one petty offense.
    • A conviction of two or more offenses with a combined sentence of five years or more (other than a political offense).
    • A violation of any law relating to a controlled substance violation with the exception of a conviction for possession of 30 grams or less of marijuana.
    • Incarceration for a total period of 180 days or more (other than a political offense).
    • False testimony for the purpose of obtaining any immigration benefit.
    • Engagement in prostitution, attempted or procured to import prostitution, or received proceeds from prostitution.
    • Involvement in smuggling of a person to enter or try to enter the United States in violation of the law.
    • Practicing polygamy.
    • A conviction for two or more gambling offenses or someone who derives income principally from illegal gambling activities.
    • A person who is or was a habitual drunkard.
    • Willful failure or refusal to support dependents, unless extenuating circumstances are established.
    • Extramarital affair tending to destroy existing marriage, unless extenuating circumstances are established.
    • Unlawful acts that adversely reflect upon good moral character, unless extenuating circumstances are established.

It should be noted that USCIS officers are not constrained to the statutory period and look towards past conduct where there is no proof that the person has been rehabilitated. In addition, USCIS officer can look to other factors beyond the statutory mandatory and conditional bars.  Other factors are:

    • Family ties and background.
    • Absence or presence of other criminal history.
    • Education.
    • Employment history.
    • Other law-abiding behavior (examples could be meeting financial obligations, paying taxes, caring for family, etc.)
    • Community involvement.
    • Credibility of the applicant.
    • Compliance with probation.
    • Length of time in the United States.

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Risks of Filing Citizenship Application

You should always consult an immigration and naturalization attorney prior to filing a naturalization application for the following reason:  Filing the application could initiate removal proceedings against you for a deportable crime.

There are many convictions that can make a legal permanent resident deportable from the United States.  Even some misdemeanor charges can make you deportable. 

Immigrations and Custom Enforcement (ICE) does not have the resources to remove every person who is deportable for a criminal conviction. 

However, if you file a naturalization application, you are doing ICE’s work for them.  USCIS will be able to review your file.  If you have a deportable conviction, instead of adjudicating your naturalization application, they may send your case to ICE to be placed in removal proceedings. 

This nightmare can be avoided by simply seeking representation from an attorney.

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Additional Resources

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement- Find information on Krome’s facility, contact information, visiting hours, bond information, and more.

U.S. Department of Justice-Find information on immigration court at Krome Detention Center.

U.S. Department of Justice- Find information on immigration court at the Miami Immigration Court at 333 South Miami Avenue in Miami, FL.

Department of Homeland Security- Find information on the Department of Homeland Security including the location of someone in ICE custody, updates on DHS and ICE immigration policies, and locations for DHS offices of the Chief Counsel.

The National Visa Center- Find information on policies, information on how to obtain a visa, the status of your visa, download forms, and receive information on paying fees.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services- Download forms and instructions for immigration applications, check case status updates, and get statistical information on approved and denied applications

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Find an Attorney for Citizenship in Miami, FL

If you or a family member is interested in filing naturalization, contact Hubbs Law today. Consultations are free.  You pay nothing to have your case evaluated and have our attorney, E.J. Hubbs, evaluate your case. 

E.J. handles both immigration and criminal cases and help ensure that your naturalization application does not result in you, or your family member being placed in removal proceedings.

E.J. Hubbs represents immigration clients in Miami and throughout Miami-Dade County, including, Miami Gardens, Hialeah, North and South Miami, Miami Beach, Homestead, Kendall, and anywhere else in the area.

Give Hubbs Law a call today.  E.J. Hubbs will discuss all aspects of your case with you or your family member and give you a detailed legal opinion.  Call today to schedule your consultation at (305) 665-9040 .

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