USCIS Announces Plans to Improve the Naturalization Test

USCIS has announced that it will begin implementing an updated naturalization test beginning December 2020 or early 2021. In order to naturalize, candidates must demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of U.S. civics and the English language by passing a naturalization test.   In December 2018, USCIS formed a naturalization test revision working group with members from across the agency. The working group has been reviewing and updating the naturalization test questions, as well as assessing potential changes to the speaking portion of the test. USCIS is receiving the input of experts in the field to ensure that this process is fair and transparent.  USCIS has the power, granted by Congress, to develop, administer and occasionally revise the naturalization civics test to ensure accuracy and timeliness of content.  It has been 10 years since revisions were last made to the naturalization test. On May 3, 2019, USCIS signed the Revision of the Naturalization Civics Test Memorandum.  As explained in the memorandum, “the purpose of these revisions is to create a meaningful, comprehensive, uniform, and efficient test that will assess applicants’ knowledge and understanding of U.S. history, government, principles, and values.”  Presently, the civics portion of the naturalization test consists of 10 questions out […]
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Fun Facts & Information on Naturalization

Here at Berardi Immigration Law, we are proud to help our clients make their American dreams a reality! What better way to celebrate the upcoming Fourth of July holiday than to take a look at some interesting facts on naturalization. Naturalization is the process through which a green card holder in the United States can become a U.S. citizen.  Fun facts on naturalization: During the last decade, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) welcomed more than 7.4 million naturalized citizens.  In fiscal year 2018, over 757,000 people were naturalized. Since 2009, USCIS welcomed approximately 620,000 to 780,000 citizens each year during naturalization ceremonies across the United States and around the world. In fiscal year 2018, 73 percent of all naturalized citizens resided in 10 states (in descending order): California, Florida, New York, Texas, New Jersey, Illinois, Massachusetts, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Washington. In fiscal year 2018, the leading metropolitan areas of residence for naturalization applicants were New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA (15 percent), Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA (7.8 percent), and Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, FL (7.3 percent). In fiscal year 2018, the top countries of origin for naturalization were in the following descending order:  Mexico, India, Philippines, Cuba, and People’s Republic of […]
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USCIS Announces Strategy to Decrease Processing Times for Naturalization and Adjustment of Status Applications

On June 17, 2019, USCIS announced that it will be implementing a national strategy to decrease differences in processing times based on location for both naturalization applications and adjustment of status applications. Since 2015, USCIS has experienced an increase in processing times due to higher than expected volumes received during fiscal years 2016 and 2017 that did not decrease as originally expected. Fiscal year 2017 receipts were up 15.6% from fiscal year 2016, and fiscal year 2016 receipts were up 25.5% from fiscal year 2015. The increased filing volumes did not affect field offices equally, which resulted in some disparity among processing times. USCIS will now begin to shift caseloads between field offices to decrease processing times. As a result, applicants may be scheduled to appear for an interview at a field office outside of their normal jurisdiction. This change will not affect where applicants attend their biometrics appointments. If you are interested in learning more about adjustment of status or naturalization, please contact our office to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys today!
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Controlled Substances and Naturalization

Naturalization is the process by which individuals not born on United States soil become American citizens. The process requires a long application process in order to satisfy certain general requirements. One of these requirements is that the applicant prove, through his or her application, that he or she is a person of good moral character. The good moral character requirement is somewhat vague and ambiguous and is consequently dependent on the interpretation of the USCIS officer who reviews an application. Nonetheless, some activities will universally impact the determination of an applicant’s good moral character in a negative way. One of those activities is the violation of federal controlled substances laws. Recently, USCIS issued new policy guidance explaining how the infringement of federal controlled substance laws affects naturalization determinations. Generally, violations of federal controlled substance laws, including marijuana-related offenses, will prevent a naturalization applicant from establishing that he or she has good moral character. This is so even if the controlled substance was possessed, used or distributed in a state where that substance is legal, such as marijuana in the District of Columbia.  Though some states have elected to decriminalize marijuana in one form or another, marijuana remains an illegal, controlled […]
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Naturalization Concerns: Continuous Residence, Tax Returns and State Benefits

Naturalization can be a long and anxiety-producing process. In putting together your application and waiting for approval from the government, you may have many questions and concerns. For instance, what if you have been moving around a lot and not maintaining a continuous residence? Or, what if you have failed to file your tax returns? Or, what if you have been receiving state healthcare benefits? Ultimately, these three issues are worth thinking about, and we explain why below. The residence requirements for naturalization do not require that an applicant live in the same residence during the five-year period of residency required for naturalization. Consequently, moving around, from house to house, should not affect a naturalization application. That being said, an applicant should begin to operate as much as he or she can out of a single address. He or she should file tax returns out of that address, stay there as much as possible and have identification changed to list that address. Illustrating that the applicant has a continuing, permanent address will make him or her appear more stable and established as an applicant, which can only help an application with the government. It is possible for an applicant to […]
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Client of the Month: Mark Jones

Berardi Immigration Law is happy to have recently helped Mark Jones acquire U.S. citizenship! Mark is a long-standing client of Berardi Immigration Law (BIL); in fact, he was one of Rosanna’s first clients upon the founding of the firm in 2005! The firm has assisted Mark through the process of applying for his marriage-based green card all the way through citizenship. Mark originally chose to work with our firm thanks to BIL’s attention to detail and personal interest in his case. Mark and his spouse decided to continue working with BIL as a result of our firm’s unwavering support, as well as consistent results.  Mark and his spouse enjoyed their time working with BIL. Once they were married, they contacted our firm to begin the process of first obtaining a green card. When it was eventually time to apply for citizenship, they knew they wanted to work with our team again. They had complete confidence in the entire team’s knowledge and expertise, as well as our long-term commitment to Mark’s case. The team’s personal touch helped make what can be a stressful process manageable and streamlined. Mark felt fully prepared for his final interview and aced the exam. Attending Mark’s […]
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In an Effort to Promote Efficiency, USCIS Makes More Forms Available for Online Filing

In its continuing efforts to promote more efficiency in its processes, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently announced that applicants now have the ability to file Form N-600, Application for Certificate of Citizenship and Form N-600K, Application for Citizenship and Issuance of Certificate Under Section 322 online.  L. Francis Cissna, director of USCIS, noted that traditional paper filing of petitions often creates a burden on those seeking an immigration benefit and those who are adjudicating petitions. He also noted that “this addition to our online capabilities is yet another positive advancement toward a more efficient and convenient filing experience for everyone involved.” In addition to Forms N-600 and N-600K, USCIS allows for electronic filing of Form I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card; Form N-336, Request for a Hearing on a decision in Naturalization Proceedings; Form N-400, Application for Naturalization; and Form N-565, Application for Replacement Naturalization/Citizenship Document.  Applicants can file Form N-600 for themselves or their minor children if they were born abroad and are claiming U.S. citizenship at birth through their parents or automatically became a U.S. citizen after birth, but before they turned 18 years old. Applicants are eligible to file Form N-600K if they regularly […]
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