You may already know that the path to U.S. citizenship is not an easy one. To begin with, you likely went through the process of obtaining permanent residency, which often takes years, depending on the immigration program through which you obtained your green card. After receiving your permanent residency and moving to New York, you had to wait three to five years before beginning the process of applying for naturalization. During that time, you may have been saving money, studying your civics lessons and practicing English.
Now that you are eligible to apply, you are likely eager to gain your U.S. citizenship and the full rights it offers. However, there may be other factors that could prevent you from successfully completing the process of becoming a citizen.
One of the most important obligations of a U.S. citizen is fulfilling your duties to the country through the work of the government. This takes many forms, but two that will specifically affect your bid for citizenship are paying taxes and registering for Selective Service.
U.S. citizens and permanent residents pay federal, state and local taxes to ensure the smooth running of the government. If you have not paid your share of income taxes since becoming a permanent resident, you may have a challenge when you apply for naturalization.
Selective Service registration is a requirement for all males between ages 18 and 25 to ensure that our military will be well-prepared in case of a national emergency. If you met the criteria for registration when you obtained your legal status, you should have registered for Selective Service. If you have not registered, it would behoove you to do so immediately. If you are already 26, your attorney can advise you on the best course of action.
Citizenship includes obedience to the rule of law. This means avoiding criminal activity and fulfilling the requirements of court ordered child support. Naturalization authorities will check your background to see if you have been convicted of any serious crimes or offenses that result in your ineligibility for citizenship. They will also investigate to verify that the facts on your application are truthful.
Failing to pay child support may be another roadblock to citizenship unless you can prove that there were legitimate reasons for nonpayment. Your attorney can be of great assistance in your efforts to mitigate these and other factors that may complicate your attempt to obtain full rights as a citizen of the United States.