Howard County Immigration Lawyer

The process of becoming a US citizen can be complicated, especially if during your time in the US, you faced a criminal matter. Applications can be complex and it is important to work with a skilled immigration lawyer if you are looking to obtain US citizenship and have immigration questions. If you are a Howard County resident that is planning on submitting an application for US citizenship or has begun the application process, contact an experienced Howard County immigration lawyer to have your case evaluated.

Lawful Permanent Residency

Lawful permanent resident (LPR), or green card holder, refers to the legal status of a non-citizen that has authorization to live and work in the United States, with few restrictions. Obtaining LPR status can occur in several ways. It can be obtained through a family member, employment, or status as an asylee or refugee, among others.

A relative, who is a US citizen, can petition for immediate relatives to permanently relocate to the United States; in turn, the entering relative may be a LPR. Some jobs or employment offers in the US may provide grounds for filing an immigration petition to become a LPR. In other cases, being admitted into the US as a refugee, an asylee, or an asylee’s qualifying family member can lead to becoming an LPR, as long as the application for a green card is approved.

LPRs can own property, accept employment without restriction, and, eventually, apply for US Citizenship if they choose to do so. Even if a lawful permanent resident chooses not to apply for citizenship, they can remain in the US permanently. A Howard County immigration attorney can provide more specific guidance based on an individual’s specific circumstances.

US Citizenship Requirements

Prior to submitting an application for citizenship, a citizenship applicant must live in the US as an LPR for five years from the date that they obtained the LPR status or three years if the individual is married to a US citizen. Additionally, to submit an application the citizenship applicant must have good moral character.

The next step in becoming a citizen of the United States of America is to complete the citizenship application, Form N-400, which is the same regardless of which jurisdiction the applicant lives in.  Submitting a completed application requires the applicant to have substantial documentation, fingerprinting, and photographs. Additionally, the applicant is required to complete an interview and the citizenship test.

Good Moral Character

The standard for good moral character is not clearly defined, although there are general guidelines that a Howard County immigration lawyer can use, so whether or not an applicant meets the standard is determined on a case-by-case basis and can vary among counties within the same state. The first general requirement to meeting the good moral character standard with Immigration and Naturalization Services is that the applicant was honest throughout the entire process when applying for permanent residency.

Additionally, the applicant must intend to be a good citizen, which, essentially, means, has intent to pay taxes and has faithfully paid taxes as an LPR. An applicant with no criminal history and no involvement with illegal activities will also meet the standard of having good moral character.

Having a prior conviction for a misdemeanor or felony offense does not immediately bar an applicant from gaining US citizenship. However, it does make a difficult process more difficult, regardless of whether the applicant is in Howard County, Maryland or another state.

Working with a Howard County Immigration Attorney

With the political climate bringing increasing amounts of uncertainty and confusion over immigration issues, it is more important than ever to make sure you retain the services of an experienced Howard County immigration lawyer who can advise you of your rights and do everything possible to protect them.