Do I Need an Immigration Lawyer for U.S. Citizenship? Staff Profile Picture
Written By:

Immigration has long been a central theme in the United States, with millions of people worldwide seeking to make America their home. In recent years, the number of immigrants in the United States has continued to rise, with estimates in 2020 suggesting that immigrants comprise 13.6% of the population. Yet, despite the many benefits of living in the United States, navigating the complex landscape of immigration law can be incredibly challenging.

Securing citizenship can be complicated and time-consuming for those seeking to become naturalized citizens. Numerous obstacles, from language barriers to legal complexities, can hinder achieving this important goal. As a result, immigration lawyers have become even more critical in helping individuals achieve their citizenship goals.

Do I Need a Lawyer to Apply for Citizenship?

While hiring a lawyer to apply for U.S. citizenship is not required, some people choose to work with an immigration attorney to ensure that their application is complete and accurate. An experienced immigration attorney can help you understand the requirements for naturalization, assess your eligibility for citizenship, and navigate the application process.

If you decide to work with a lawyer, be sure to choose one who is licensed to practice law in the United States and has experience with immigration law. Remember that while a lawyer can be helpful, they cannot guarantee that your application will be approved. Ultimately, it is up to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to decide on your application based on the information you provide and their review of your eligibility.

When Should I Hire an Immigration Attorney to Help With My Citizenship?

While it's possible to complete the naturalization process on your own, there are several reasons why hiring an experienced immigration attorney can be beneficial. The following list proves some critical reasons for considering working with an attorney when applying for U.S. citizenship.

1. You have a complex case.

Suppose you have a complicated case, such as a criminal history or prior immigration violations. In that case, an immigration attorney can help you understand how this may impact your eligibility for citizenship and how to address these issues in your application. 

Some other situations that might make your immigration case complex, and therefore likely to benefit from an immigration lawyer’s expertise, include the following:

  • Medical issues: Certain medical conditions or disabilities may impact your ability to meet the requirements for naturalization, such as the ability to pass the English and Civics test.

  • International travel or residence: If you have spent extended periods outside the United States or have lived in multiple countries, this may complicate the application process and require additional documentation to demonstrate residency and physical presence.

  • Fraud or misrepresentation: If you have provided false information or documentation in your application or have otherwise misrepresented yourself to immigration authorities, an attorney can guide how to address these issues.

2. You are not fluent in English.

Applicants must demonstrate English proficiency in speaking, reading, and writing as part of the naturalization process. This includes being able to understand and answer questions about their application, as well as being able to pass the English and Civics tests.

If you do not speak English fluently, working with an immigration attorney fluent in English and your native language can be helpful. An attorney can assist you in completing the necessary forms and documents and help you prepare for the English and Civics tests by providing language instruction and practice opportunities. 

3. You need to apply for citizenship quickly.

If you are in a situation where you need to apply for naturalization quickly, an immigration attorney can help you file your application quickly and efficiently — ensuring that all necessary documentation is submitted and that any potential issues are addressed proactively.

Some examples of time constraints in the citizenship application process may include the following: 

  • Expiration of green card: If an applicant’s green card is nearing its expiration date, they may need to apply for naturalization quickly to ensure that they maintain their lawful permanent resident status and avoid any potential issues with their immigration status.

  • Age requirements: If an applicant is nearing 18 and wishes to apply for naturalization on their own, they may need to do so quickly to ensure they can meet the age requirements before their 18th birthday.

  • Time-sensitive events: If an applicant urgently needs citizenship to participate in a specific event or activity, such as an upcoming election or travel plans, they may need to apply for naturalization quickly to meet the necessary deadlines.

4. You want to get it right on the first try.

By working with an experienced immigration attorney, you can ensure that your citizenship application is completed accurately and efficiently and that any potential issues or errors are identified and addressed proactively. This can help you feel confident in your application and make the process less stressful.

Common errors or omissions in citizenship applications may include:

  • Incomplete or inaccurate forms

  • Missing or incorrect supporting documentation

  • Failure to disclose relevant information

While these things are easy for most people to overlook, an attorney with a trained eye can help you spot and correct them before they become a problem. 

In addition, an attorney can also assist with the interview process by helping you prepare and ensuring that you understand what to expect during the process. This can include reviewing potential interview questions and providing guidance on answering them effectively.

5. Your initial application has been denied.

If your initial naturalization application has been denied, you may have the option to appeal the decision or request a hearing before an immigration judge. These processes can be complex and time-consuming and may require the assistance of an experienced immigration attorney. 

Your attorney can help you understand your options for appealing the decision and can guide the best course of action based on your specific circumstances. This may include filing a motion to reopen or reconsider the application, pursuing an administrative appeal, or judicial review of the decision.

An attorney can also represent you at a hearing or appeal, ensuring your rights are protected, and your case is presented effectively. Since attorneys are trained in gathering and presenting evidence, arguing the merits of a claim, and advocating on behalf of their clients, their presence can be instrumental and make a significant difference in the outcome of your case.

Legal Resources for Immigrants

Navigating the complex and often overwhelming landscape of immigration law can be challenging, but many legal resources are available to help immigrants achieve their goals. From non-profit organizations to your local public library, many resources can provide valuable legal guidance, support, and representation.

The National Immigration Law Center

The National Immigration Law Center (NILC) is a national non-profit organization that protects and promotes the rights of low-income immigrants in the United States. NILC offers various legal services and advocacy efforts to help immigrants navigate the ever-changing immigration system. Specifically, NILC is known for providing legal representation in impact litigation cases that can potentially create positive changes in the immigration system. 

Beyond litigation services, NILC conducts policy analysis and research to inform its advocacy efforts and provide information to policymakers, the media, and the public about the impacts of immigration policies on low-income immigrants. In addition, the organization offers educational and training programs to attorneys, community advocates, and immigrants to help them better understand the immigration system and their legal rights and responsibilities.

Immigration Court Help Desks

Many immigration courts have help desks or information centers that provide basic information and assistance to immigrants representing themselves in court. These help desks are typically staffed by legal volunteers or attorneys who can provide information, resources, and assistance to individuals navigating the immigration court system. 

Specifically, the Immigration Advocates Network (IAN) Immigration Court Helpdesk is a free resource that provides legal information and referrals to individuals facing immigration court proceedings. The help desk is staffed by attorneys and legal volunteers who can give lawyer referrals, assistance with forms, and support for those who are representing themselves. 

Beyond the Immigration Advocates Network, many similar court help desks exist to help immigrants facing deportation proceedings or other immigration-related issues. Search online for a help desk using keywords like your state, city, or county, followed by "immigration court help desk." 

Public Libraries

Public libraries can be valuable resources for immigrants navigating the immigration system by providing access to legal information, referrals to legal services, and other types of support that can help individuals reach their immigration goals. 

Public libraries often have a range of legal resources available, including books and online databases that provide information about immigration law and related topics. In addition, many libraries partner with local legal aid organizations and other service providers. They can provide referrals to these organizations, which can help individuals connect with legal representation. Lastly, some libraries offer workshops and classes on immigration and other legal topics. These events can allow individuals to learn about the immigration system, their rights, and available resources for support. 

To find your local public library, visit the online directory available from the American Library Association. This directory provides links to different lists of public libraries in each state and contact information for each library. Alternatively, you can conduct a simple online search using keywords like the name of your city or county followed by "public library."

Share Staff Profile Picture StaffAuthor

Step into the world of, your go-to hub for credible insights. We don't take accuracy lightly around here. Our squad of expert reviewers, each a maestro in their field, has given the green light to every single article you'll find. From rigorous fact-checking to meticulous evaluations of service providers, we've got it all covered. So feel free to dive in and explore. The information you'll uncover has been stamped with the seal of approval by our top-notch experts.