Individuals who flee their countries of origin and make their way to the US due to fear of persecution or past persecution can secure asylum and then pursue citizenship after meeting certain requirements.
Whether you want to live in Austin TX or any other state in America as a US citizen, you must meet certain time requirements to be eligible for citizenship via a process known as naturalization.
The minimum no. of years is usually 5 years. However, you must meet other requirements, such as provide proof that you have been a permanent resident continuously. The time can also be longer/shorter than 5 years depending on a number of factors.
Understanding the Time Requirements for US Citizenship
Knowing the years required to gain eligibility for US citizenship as an asylee isn’t enough. What’s more, there are many factors that come into play. For instance, Asylees who secure green cards because of their status need to understand how the time requirements are counted using a special concept called rollback.
The years you spend as an asylee matter. Part of those years are counted as part of your permanent residency requirement. Asylees are eligible to get lawful permanent residency in the US after being physically present in America for a year. This time period is counted from when a person is granted asylum. Asylees go through a process called adjustment of status to become lawful permanent residents. The process involves filling the USCIS’s Form I-485. Some documentation is also needed and a fee.
Asylees who complete 5 years of permanent residency can apply for citizenship. However, you don’t need to complete five years. The year you spent with asylum status (before qualifying to apply for permanent residency status) counts. Individuals with green cards (permanent residency) just need to wait for four years. The USCIS makes this calculation and rolls back a person’s admission date by a year.
In some cases, you can count the time you spend in America before applying for a green card when counting the time you have maintained permanent residence. Individuals who have entered America as refugees can count their permanent residency from the day they entered America for the first time regardless of how long they take to be considered permanent residents.
To avoid waiting longer than necessary, it is advisable to look for a seasoned immigration attorney to advise you on your specific case. The best immigration lawyers know the legal procedures and exceptions to exploit to ensure you don’t wait longer than you should or fail to count time that may shorten the period it takes to be eligible for naturalization. You also stand to get priceless advice on eligibility timelines for close family members like spouses and children.
Precautions to Take as an Asylee Waiting to Get Naturalized
The timelines for asylees wishing to be naturalized aren’t set on stone. They may vary depending on some circumstances. Even if you are an asylee who has waited for a year, secured a permanent resident status, you may be required to wait longer than expected to be naturalized.
It’s worth noting that American Immigration authorities review immigration files carefully, examining if applicants meet every single requirement.
The most notable in this case are requirements to maintain permanent residence in America. You may risk waiting longer or even losing eligibility to become naturalized if you travel out of America for too long without seeking authority. Other related travel circumstances can also affect your naturalization timelines.
If you go back to your country after securing asylum, you risk losing your eligibility for citizenship. Since the USCIS grants asylum to individuals fearing persecution or those who have already been persecuted based on factors like race, politics, religion, etc., going back home may mean that you are no longer at risk.
Traveling back home continuously after getting asylum complicate your case and eligibility for naturalization further. In most cases, you must explain why you break the continuous residence requirement needed to be naturalized. You need a very good reason/s to avoid losing your eligibility for citizenship or lengthening your naturalization timelines.
The importance of immigration lawyers can’t be overlooked in such a scenario. The USCIS must be convinced beyond doubt that your reason/s for traveling back home or outside the US are valid to avoid delays on naturalization or an ultimate disqualification.
Consult a seasoned immigration attorney in Austin TX, if you are an asylee living in Austin Texas who needs to travel without losing eligibility for naturalization or extending the timelines for eligibility.
The USCIS allows asylees to travel back to their home countries on special occasions. For instance, if you become an asylee, stay in America for a year, qualify for permanent residency status, and complete two years of continuous stay in America and conditions in your home country change (i.e., civil war ends and there is political stability), you need to collect evidence of your country’s political conditions i.e., reputable news articles to illustrate this.
If conditions are the same (there is still risk of persecution) but you have to travel home for personal reasons like attending the burial of a close relative, the USCIS requires you to send detailed precautions on how you will protect yourself.
Seasoned immigration attorneys know the kind of protection measures the USCIS looks for in such as case. You need legal help to prepare a declaration describing every effort you will take involving the travel as well as reasons for travel. Documented evidence is also required. Failing to do this can undercut your asylum eligibility and related timeline requirements for becoming naturalized.
Get Legal Help
It normally takes 5 years of permanent residency for asylees to qualify. With a rollback, it will take four years. However, if you have spent a lot of time in the US without applying for permanent residency, your time may count, resulting in a shorter wait.
You need an Immigration lawyer to establish the precise timeline for your case. The best immigration lawyers in Austin TX will give you a free initial consultation that can offer important information about timeline eligibility for asylees seeking naturalization, among other important information.