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Asylum often stepping stone to citizenship in Louisiana

Many immigrants living in Louisiana are hoping to one day become naturalized citizens of the United States. Some arrived in this state through the asylum program. Not everyone is eligible for this protection, however, and not everyone who is granted asylum will successfully apply for citizenship. Each case is unique and immigration decisions are made according to individual circumstances in conjunction with existing laws and guidelines.

A person recently granted asylum inquired online about the citizenship process. This person was seeking information as to whether a green card would automatically be issued or if an application for permanent residency was required. The columnist responding to the inquiry explained that applications must be filed in order to obtain permanent legal status.

No person can apply for citizenship without first obtaining permanent residency status. The particular form needing to be filed to apply for a green card may only be submitted after an immigrant has resided in the United States under asylum for one year. From there, application for naturalization may only occur after one has possessed a green card for four years. 

The waiting period is substantially less for those who are married to U.S. citizens. In such cases, an immigrant would only need to wait two years before applying for naturalization. In either case, the actual application may be filed a few months before the required waiting period ends.

The asylum, green card and naturalization processes are often quite complex. It is easy to feel overwhelmed and confused when trying to fulfill eligibility requirements for any of these programs. Many Louisiana immigrants reach out for support rather than try to navigate such systems alone. An experienced immigration law attorney is a source of support who can help simplify the application process and address any legal problems that may arise along the way.

Source: nydailynews.com, "Immigrants granted asylum must apply for permanent residency", Allan Wernick, Nov. 16, 2017

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