The path to citizenship is lengthy, but with the help of an Orlando LGBT immigration lawyer, your same-sex spouse can become a naturalized citizen more easily than attempting the process on your own.
The U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in 2015, giving same-sex couples the same rights as opposite-sex couples. These rights extend to immigration, so the rules for naturalization for a non-U.S. citizen same-sex spouse are the same as for a non-U.S. citizen opposite-sex spouse.
However, there can be added scrutiny placed on an LGBT couple to prove the legitimacy of their marriage. In our experience, it is helpful to have the assistance of an Orlando LGBT immigration lawyer when going through the naturalization process. If you follow this guide, we can navigate the complexities of immigration law together, ensuring a smoother path toward citizenship while safeguarding your rights.
Know Your Rights
Before you begin the naturalization process, you must understand you have the same rights as opposite-sex couples. According to immigration law, if you marry your spouse in a country that allows same-sex marriage, your marriage is the same as any opposite-sex marriage in the U.S., and your spouse can apply to become a permanent resident here. After three years as a resident, they can apply for U.S. citizenship through naturalization.
Meet Eligibility Requirements
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) outlines a precise step-by-step process that an applicant must follow. If you miss any steps or leave out crucial information, the process can be delayed, or the non-U.S. spouse may be subject to deportation. Our Orlando LGBT immigration lawyer can walk you through these steps to help expedite your path to citizenship.
The qualifications for naturalization in a same-sex or opposite-sex marriage are identical. To seek naturalization based on marriage, you need to satisfy these conditions:
- Be at least 18 years old when applying.
- Hold Lawful Permanent Resident status (LPR) for at least three years upon application.
- Remain married to your resident spouse until the Oath of Allegiance ceremony.
- Live in a marital union for at least three years before applying.
- Before applying, be physically present in the United States for at least 18 months out of the preceding three years.
- Understand and use the English language—reading, writing, and speaking.
- Demonstrate knowledge of United States civics.
- Show good moral character for at least three years before application.
- And fulfill other specified requirements.
Once you and your Orlando LGBT immigration lawyer have determined that the non-U.S. citizen spouse is eligible, we can begin the naturalization process.
Follow The Process
After meeting the eligibility requirements outlined above, you may begin the naturalization process, which involves several key steps:
- Completing Form N-400: This is the Application For Naturalization. You can fill out a paper application, including the filing fee, or opt for an online application. Note that there are exceptions for qualifying for the online application.
- Fingerprints and Background Check: Following the application, your fingerprints will be taken, and a background check will be conducted.
- Exam and Interview: Upon completing the initial steps, you will schedule an appointment for an exam and interview. The exam includes tests in English language proficiency and civics knowledge. It evaluates your written and spoken English skills and understanding of basic U.S. history and government.
- Approval and Oath of Allegiance: Successful completion of the exam and interview leads to the approval of your application. You will then participate in the Oath of Allegiance ceremony, a pivotal part of the naturalization process. This ceremony is mandatory to receive your Certificate of Naturalization and officially become a U.S. citizen.
Hire An Orlando LGBT Immigration Lawyer
Having a legal representative guide you through the naturalization process is optional, but we strongly advise hiring one due to the intricacies involved. An Orlando LGBT immigration lawyer can assist in completing your application, help prepare you for the interview, and even accompany you during the interview. Being well-prepared can enhance your chances of success in the evaluation, paving the way for your U.S. naturalization.
At Casais & Prias, our immigration attorneys possess extensive knowledge and experience in the naturalization journey and can provide the necessary support. Contact our firm today to discuss your application and learn how we can assist you.