Sharlene Sharmila Richards

Sharlene Sharmila Richards


Q: How many years do I have to be a permanent resident before I can apply for citizenship?
A: In order to be eligible for naturalization, generally, the requirement is you have to be a permanent resident for five years. If you gained permanent residence through married to a US citizen and are still living with your US Citizen spouse, you will be eligible for citizenship after three years of becoming a permanent resident.
Q: My brother wants to apply for naturalization. He came here to the United States as a Refugee two years ago and has been a permanent resident for about 4 years. Can he apply for naturalization now?
A: Assuming he meets all the other requirements for naturalization, he should be able to apply for naturalization now. For those who came to the United States as refugees, they must apply for permanent residence within one year of their admission. They are however permitted to count the time from the date of their US entry as refugees as the beginning of their permanent residence. Based on your information, your brother does appear to have the minimum required five years to apply for naturalization.
Q: My naturalization application was denied almost 5 years ago because the officer said I had lied on my I-751 application to remove conditions on residence as I had not disclosed in that application that I had a child out of wedlock while still married to my US Citizen spouse. I did not appeal the denial. It is almost 5 years now since that denial and I wish to apply again. What can I expect this time round?
A: If you lied or provided false or misleading information in any past immigration applications and failed to disclose that in your Naturalization application, you are deemed to not have the required good moral character for naturalization. If you decide to refile the naturalization application, be prepared to clarify why you had not disclosed the existence of that child in your I-751. You may also have to check the appropriate box in you N-400 about having provided false statements in the past and provide an explanation as to what happened. It is best you consult with an immigration attorney who will be able to advise you about your case in detail, what to expect and how to deal with the naturalization interview.
Q: I have several old simple DWI convictions dating back almost 20 years. I wish to apply for naturalization. Is it going to be a problem?
A: One of the requirements for naturalization is that the applicant must have good moral character for at least 5 years and continues to be a person of good moral character. You are advised to disclosed the DWI convictions and be prepared to explain the circumstances as to why you received those convictions and ensure that you have all the certified records if the officer asks for it. You may also need to explain and provide evidence that you are no longer a habitual drunkard and are now a person of good moral character. The officer has discretion to decide to include your conduct outside of the 5 year period in the evaluation of your case. You are also well advised to consult with an immigration attorney to assist you in the preparation of your case.
Q: Please explain what the English Language exemptions are and what they mean?
A: You will be exempt from the English Language requirement if at the time of filing your naturalization, you are either 50 years or older and have lived as a permanent resident in the United States for 20 years (50/20 exception) or are 55 years old or older and have lived as a permanent resident in the United States for 15 years (55/15 exception) or are 65 years of older and have been a permanent resident for at least 20 years. If you are exempt from the English language requirements, you will still be required to take the civics (US History) portion of the test but you are permitted to take the test in your native language. Those who are claiming the exemption as 65 years or older and have been a permanent resident for 20 years or more will receive an easier version of the civics test. If you are claiming the exemption, you are advised to bring an interpreter with you to your interview.

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