Is It Time To Naturalize and Become A U.S. Citizen? You Decide

22 April 2016
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22 April 2016, Comments: Comments Off on Is It Time To Naturalize and Become A U.S. Citizen? You Decide

I was compelled to write this articles after reading an article today, April 22, 2016, in the Los Angeles Times, A Push For Citizenship, about all of the U.S. Legal Permanent Residents (holders of greencard) that are now rushing to apply for U.S. Citizenship.  I can understand their interest in becoming U.S. Citizens, given the present political climate.

Look, you’ve got Donald Trump and Ted Cruz leading the Republican primaries.  If one of these candidate should win, the political landscape for immigrants will become very unfavorable.  In that article, it stated, “In California alone, there are an estimated 2.2 million legal permanent residents who are eligible for [U.S.] citizenship but have not applied.”  The article talks about groups helping these people apply.  That’s great. But there are many individuals, who call me and seek my advice as an Immigration Lawyer, who have a less than perfect background which making applying for Citizenship through naturalization not a walk in the park.  Someone seeking to naturalize should exercise caution.  I offer incredibly competitive rates for naturalization and a free consultation.  I encourage individuals considering naturalization to become a U.S. Citizen to call me if you are considering hiring an attorney to represent you. If you become a client, I will walk you through the process each step of the way. See my site

People think that practicing immigration law or being an immigration attorney is merely filling out forms. That’s the easy part. Really, the nuts and bolts of being an immigration lawyer in Los Angeles is designing a case.  This means looking at the individual’s background to identify potential issues or existing issues and addressing them in a truthful way under existing law in a manner most beneficial to my clients.  One must take great care to review one’s case because in seeking naturalization, one may bring something to the attention of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services that might jeopardize their legal permanent residence, if not merely receive a denial of the N-400 Naturalization Application. However, there are many, many benefits of becoming a U.S. Citizen, not just for the applicant, but for his or her family members as well. A move that could facilitate, and maybe save them from remaining illegal, in this uncertain and precarious political climate.

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Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of Naturalization. Then well look at the requirements, generally.


By US Citizenship Naturalization Attorney Los Angeles & San Fernando Valley CA, Donald M. Pecchia, Esq. Published in “Ask the Immigration Lawyer.”




What are some of the Benefits of US Citizenship?

VOTING Benefits of US Citizenship

Holders of US Citizenship vote; Permanent Residents (Green Card holders) don’t. This is perhaps one of the greatest rights a free society can bestow on an individual.


Quota limitations do not apply to Immediate Relatives. Consequently, certain relatives of holders of US Citizenship will be in a better position to immigrate and do it faster than those of Permanent Residents (Green Cards holders) if they are categorized as Immediate Relatives. The Citizen’s spouse, unmarried children under 21, and parents of a U.S. Citizen if the child sponsoring the parent is over 21 are considered Immediate Relatives. This means that Immediate Relatives do not have to wait for their quota number to be current and can receive their Green Cards (Permanent Residents), if qualified, as soon as their petitions and applications can be processed. The particulars of the Immediate Relative classification are not discussed here.


It’s amazing. As a US Citizenship Naturalization Attorney Los Angeles, I get calls from people who having been waiting years to bring relatives to the U.S. They were Green Card holders when they filed their petitions and subsequently became Citizens. These individuals can “bump up” their relatives to a different Family Preference Category thereby possibly knocking years of their wait. For example, Family Second Preference includes unmarried sons and daughters over 21 of Permanent Residents (Green Card holders). If the parent were a Citizen, those unmarried sons and daughters would be in Family First Preference and have a shorter wait. It should be noted that even if the sponsor of the alien becomes a Citizen after filing the petition for the relative with INS, the sponsor may still change the status of his petition.


Under certain circumstances, a Green Card holder may be out of the U.S. for too long a period of time and may lose his or her permanent residence. Citizenship may be lost, and a discussion of the same is beyond the scope of this article, but not for purposes of abandoning one’s residence as in the case of a Green Card holder who is out of the U.S. too long a period of time.


Green Cards issued since 1989 have expiration dates of ten years. Cards having expiration dates must be replaced at the expiration of the term.

What Green Card Holders (Permanent Residents) May Be Eligible for Citizenship?

If someone wants to become a naturalized citizen there are various requirements. Some of those requirements, stated in general terms and subject to certain exceptions which are beyond the scope of this article, include:

WAITING PERIOD – The person must have the Green Card now and during all of the past five years; three years if married to a U.S. Citizen.

PRESENCE IN U.S. – The person must have been physically residing in the U.S. continuously for at least half of the time or 2 ½ years. This requirement applies to the three-year period as well. However, there are exceptions to what one would think is continuous residency not addressed here.

LOCAL RESIDENCY – the person must have resided for at least three months within the State or INS district where the application is being filed.

AGE – The person must be 18 years old or older. There is an exception for Children.

GOOD MORAL CHARACTER – The person must show good moral character for the last five years. There are numerous interpretations of what constitutes, “good moral character.” As you can imagine, this requirement may raise questions for certain applicants. In those cases a word of good legal advice may greatly assist an applicant uncertain about whether he or she can meet this requirement.

OBSERVE THE LAWS – There are also requirements concerning not breaking laws. Again, there are exceptions here and good advice helps, particularly if a person has had problems with the law.

KNOWLEDGE OF U.S. – Most immigrants are aware of the requirements concerning knowledge of U.S. history and government, English language ability, etc. Here too there are exceptions depending upon age of immigrant and years in the U.S. as a permanent resident. Generally, the requirements are easier for immigrants who have been here for longer periods of time and are older.

There are also special classes of individuals to whom special laws apply with respect to obtaining Citizenship. If an individual has a questionable background, applying for Citizenship may bring them under scrutiny of the USCIS. Though the benefits can be great, it should also be noted that it is possible that the USCIS may discover something an applicant for Citizenship has done which violates the conditions of having a Green Card and take it away, thereby making the person deportable. It is advisable for anyone having questions concerning their eligibility for citizenship or background seek the assistance of a professional familiar with these matters.

FREE CONSULTATION with US Citizenship Naturalization Attorney Los Angeles Pecchia to evaluate your immigration case.


Information provided on this site is for general informational purposes only. It is not intended to be legal advice. Individuals should speak with an attorney knowledgeable in such matters concerning their particular situation. Also see Legal Disclaimer section of this site.

Accepting Immigration and Naturalization cases throughout the World, US, and California, as well as local cities, including, but not limited to: Los AngelesSan Fernando Valley, Woodland Hills, Tarzana, Encino, Sherman Oaks, Studio City, Beverly Hills, Reseda, Panorama City, Burbank, Northridge, Santa Clarita, Calabasas, Malibu, San Fernando, Studio City, Hollywood, W. Hollywood, Santa Monica, Ingelwood, Glendale, Pasedena, and other surrounding cities.