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New Year's Resolution: Become a U.S. Citizen in 2013!

Because being a permanent resident is only temporary.

Take advantage of your holiday vigor before the dust settles. Because being a permanent resident is only temporary.

If you are over 18 years old and have a green card, go get it. It should be stashed somewhere for safekeeping, not in your wallet. This might take a minute.

Now look at the place where it says “Resident Since”.  You may be eligible to apply for citizenship if you fall into one of two general categories: You have been a permanent resident for at least 5 years OR a permanent resident for 3 years and married to/living with  the same US citizen for at least three years.  

In addition, applicants must have continuous presence in the United States, a basic knowledge of English and U.S. History/Civics, and be a person of “good moral character.”

Once we determine your eligibility, a CASA de Maryland staff member can assist you in filling out the application for citizenship and preparing your packet for mailing. If the filing fee is prohibitively high, CASA offers a low interest micro-loan to residents of the state of Maryland.

However you decide to finance it, this is one of the best investments you can make in yourself.

As a citizen, you will have a more powerful voice in your community. With the help of an attorney, US citizens can also sponsor family members to immigrate to the United States and automatically gain citizenship for their children (under the age of 18). If you have a lot of traveling on your to-do list for next year and are eligible for citizenship, you may want to get a US passport first. Visa requirements and fees tend to be universally softer on US citizens. Unlike people with green cards, a U.S.citizen can never be deported or denied entry to the United States.

Achieving US citizenship can be a simple process and the Citizenship Maryland team at CASA de Maryland is here to help you every step of the way. Appointments are accepted Monday-Friday during regular business hours; clinics are held on select Saturdays throughout the year. Our staff offers assistance in English, Spanish, French, and Portuguese.

For more information on CASA’s citizenship services or to schedule an appointment, please contact: Jihan Asher via email (jasher@casamd.org) or by phone at 240-491-5752.

Disclaimer: This blog post is not intended to serve as a substitute for professional legal advice. If you have any doubts regarding your eligibility or criminal history, the Citizenship Maryland staff provides applicants with free legal referrals. Attorneys and licensed representatives are present at all citizenship clinics and can discuss individual concerns on a case-by-case basis. 

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

MNH January 07, 2013 at 05:55 PM
One thing to note, as was made clear when I recently got my green card, the law now requires that green card holders carry the card on them at all times, and the information you receive from ICE makes this clear. So, even though you run the risk of losing it, you should have your green card in your wallet or on your person.
Jihan Asher January 07, 2013 at 06:26 PM
Thank you for that important update! When I got my green card (years ago), I remember being instructed to put it away for safe keeping. But it's true that the only constant is change when it comes to these things--and adults over 18 are in fact, being asked to carry proof of immigration status on their person at all times. Another good reason to apply for citizenship as soon as you are eligible...so you don't have to carry your green card around :)

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