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Gaffney Naturalization Information

Do I need a Naturalization Lawyer for U.S. Citizenship?

Applying for citizenship can be a complicated process that includes filing the appropriate forms and gathering the necessary supplemental documents in support of an application. A naturalization lawyer can help you determine whether you are eligible to apply and ensure your application is complete and free of omissions. This type of lawyer can help you prepare for and be present at your naturalization interview with a United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officer.

What is the naturalization process?

It is important to understand the application steps and potential complicating factors to a successful application. A complete application along with proper preparation for your interview and English/civics test means a much higher likelihood of approval on your first attempt. The Naturalization Eligibility Worksheet, which can be found on the USCIS website, is a useful tool to determine whether you qualify for naturalization. Speaking with a naturalization lawyer can also be very helpful. In general, the application process will proceed in the following manner:

  • Complete and file Form N-400 along with the necessary supplemental documents.
  • USCIS will mail you a letter with appointment details to have your biometrics taken.
  • USCIS will mail you a letter with appointment details for your Naturalization Interview. There will likely be questions about your application and background. All applicants will also take the civics and English test unless you obtain a waiver for the English language requirement.
  • If approved, you will receive a ceremony date to take the Oath of Allegiance to the United States. After taking the oath, you will receive your Certificate of Naturalization, which is proof of U.S. citizenship. Later you may apply for a U.S. passport.

Is speaking English a requirement for U.S. citizenship?

In most cases, the ability to speak, read, and write basic English is a requirement for citizenship. Certain age and residency exemptions to this requirement may apply to your specific situation. A naturalization lawyer can assist you in determining whether you can waive this requirement and take the civics test in your native language.

What is a naturalized citizen?

In the U.S., a naturalized citizen is a person who acquires citizenship either by statutory decree or through application and approval by USCIS. Other than those who obtain automatic citizenship by virtue of being born in the United States, all other citizens are naturalized citizens.

How an Attorney Can Help

An attorney can often resolve your particular legal issue faster and better than trying to do it alone. A lawyer can help you navigate the legal system, while avoiding costly mistakes or procedural errors. You should seek out an attorney whose practice focuses on the area of law most relevant to your issue.

Top Questions to Ask a Lawyer

  • What is the usual process to resolve my case? How long will it take to resolve this?
  • What are likely outcomes of a case like mine? What should I expect?

An experienced lawyer should be able to communicate a basic "road map" on how to proceed. The lawyer should be able to walk you through the anticipated process, key considerations, and potential pitfalls to avoid. Once you've laid out the facts of your situation to the lawyer, he/she should be able to frame expectations and likely scenarios to help you understand your legal issue.

Types of legal fees:

Bill by the hour: Many attorneys bill by the hour. How much an attorney bills you per hour will vary based on a number of factors. For instance, an attorney's hourly fee may fluctuate based on whether that hour is spent representing you in court or doing research on your case. Attorneys in one practice area may bill you more than attorneys in a different practice area.

Contingent fee: Some lawyers will accept payment via contingent fee. In this arrangement, the lawyer receives a percentage of the total monetary recovery if you win your lawsuit. In sum, the lawyer only gets paid if you win. Contingent fee agreements are limited to specific practice areas in civil law.

Flat fee: For "routine" legal work where the attorney generally knows the amount of time and resources necessary to complete the task, he/she may be willing to bill you a flat fee for services performed.

Common legal terms explained

Pro se - This Latin term refers to representing yourself in court instead of hiring professional legal counsel. Pro se representation can occur in either criminal or civil cases.

Statute - Refers to a law created by a legislative body. For example, the laws enacted by Congress are statutes.

Subject matter jurisdiction - Requirement that a particular court have authority to hear the claim based on the specific type of issue brought to the court. For example, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court only has subject matter jurisdiction over bankruptcy filings, therefore it does not have the authority to render binding judgment over other types of cases, such as divorce.

Lead Counsel Rated Attorneys

Lead Counsel's objective process independently verifies attorney records, conferring with state bars across the country and conducting annual reviews to confirm that the attorney practices in the legal categories as indicated, possesses a valid bar license, and is eligible to practice in the specific jurisdiction.