October 12, 2009: Can an Asylum Grantee Apply For Citizenship?

Can an Asylum Grantee Apply For Citizenship?

Can a person who applied for Political Asylum, and who now has a green card, eventually apply for citizenship here in the USA? I was telling my friend this may not be possible but she insists that since she is already a green card holder, she can now apply for citizenship in the USA. She contends that is typically the next step after receiving the Green Card. Can you please enlighten both of us on this? Thank you so much!
— Anonymous

You are welcome.

Assuming she is otherwise qualified, a lawful permanent resident (green card holder) who acquired their residency through asylum is eligible to apply for Naturalization. Generally, the lawful permanent resident can file for Naturalization 4 years and nine months from the date residency was granted.

On the Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, there are a series of questions relating to any and all of the applicant’s affiliations. These affiliations range from organizations, associations, funds, foundations, parties, clubs, etc. in the United States and anywhere in the world. The applicant is required to name each group that she has been affiliated with. There are also questions relating to the applicant’s affiliation with communism, advocating the overthrowing of government, and persecution. Where applicable, the applicant must disclose these affiliations and explain the circumstances.

The applicant should verify that any and all affiliations do not prevent him or her from naturalizing. Additionally, the applicant must make sure that she does not have any criminal convictions that may render her deportable, that she meets the physical presence and continuous residence requirements, among all of the other requirements for Naturalization.

Before your friend applies for Naturalization, it may be wise for her to consult with an experienced immigration attorney to review their immigration records and advise on their eligibility for citizenship.

Michael Shane and Evan Shane, Immigration Attorneys