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Applying for U.S. Citizenship and other immigration benefits with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is the same for any individual regardless of what state they reside because USCIS services and benefits are set forth by federal law and statute. The person seeking immigration benefits seeks those benefits by applying to the USCIS. The procedure is the same whether you live in Wisconsin, Illinois, or any other U.S. state. Talk to an Immigration attorney today to start your U.S citizenship application process today.  


What is the USCIS N-400 Form?


USCIS Form N-400 is the main form completed when applying for naturalization or citizenship. The N-400 must be completed with the required documents and the proper fees to request citizenship. The N-400 application requires information on your present and past residency, parents, present and past employment, education, time spent outside of the country, marriage history, children, and a number of personal questions. To qualify for U.S. citizenship, the following must be present:  


  • Applicant must be at least 18 years old;  
  • Applicant must be a Permanent Resident of the U.S. and possess a valid and unexpired Permanent Resident Card (also referred to as a “green card.”) and maintained that status either 3 or 5 prior to applying for U.S. Citizenship;  
  • Applicant must show that during the five (5) years proceeding the application of the N-400, they have not been physically outside of the U.S. for a total of 30 months or more;  
  • Applicant must not have taken any trip(s) outside the U.S. for 12 months or during a single trip;  
  • Applicant must be able to speak, read, and write in the English language;  
  • Applicant must know the fundamentals of U.S. history and the form and principles of the U.S. government and U.S. Constitution;  
  • Applicant must be a person of good moral character;  
  • Applicant must have a clean criminal record (minor traffic offenses are not included as part of this requirement).  

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services with American flag

What Would Disqualify Me from Receiving Citizenship?


On the issue of “good moral character,” USCIS does not directly define what it means to have “good moral character.’ However, USCIS does recognize a list of offenses and acts that would bar an applicant from citizenship; those offenses and acts include but are not limited to:  


  • bail jumping;  
  • bank fraud;  
  • conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance;  
  • failure to file or pay state and federal income taxes;  
  • false claim to U.S. citizenship;  
  • falsification of documents;  
  • forgery;  
  • insurance fraud;  
  • obstruction of justice;  
  • sexual assault;  
  • Social Security Fraud;  
  • unlawful harassment or stalking;  
  • unlawful registration to vote;  


Each applicant and case is determined on a case-by-case analysis to determine whether an act committed by an applicant is unlawful and whether it adversely affects an applicant’s good moral character. Additionally, USCIS allows applicants to provide an affidavit and/or statement explaining their unlawful acts and behavior, and each case is subject to the discretion of the USCIS immigration officer to opine on an applicant’s good moral character.  


What Are the Next Steps?


If all the above-stated requirements have been met, an applicant should proceed with completing and submitting the N-400 to USCIS with all the necessary supporting documents and fees. On average, it takes about six months to a year to fully process a request for citizenship. If additional information is sought from the applicant, USCIS will deliver a “request for evidence” (RFE) to the applicant, indicating what information is missing or needs correction. In short, specific errors or omissions may not result in denying the applicant’s request for citizenship; USCIS will provide opportunities for an applicant to resolve those issues. For more information on general information regarding the citizenship decision read our article, How Long Do I Have to Wait for a Citizenship Decision?


For additional information regarding U.S. citizenship; or any other immigration benefits, feel free to contact O’Flaherty Law by calling (630) 324-6666.    

Disclaimer: The information provided on this blog is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Each individual's legal needs are unique, and these materials may not be applicable to your legal situation. Always seek the advice of a competent attorney with any questions you may have regarding a legal issue. Do not disregard professional legal advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this blog.

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