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Will be applying to citizenship at end of the month

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Good morning, I become eligible to apply for citizenship based on being a permanent resident for 5 years at the end of the July 2015. I wanted to get your input on whether I need to hire an attorney or not. I received my GC based on marriage to a USC. I became a conditional resident on 10/14/10, and two years later we applied to remove the condition on my GC which was approved with no issues. Soon after I found out my husband was having an affair, and we separated on may of 2013. At this point, my husband moved to New Jersey, where he is originally from to be with his mom who was having some problems. We still kept in touch, and originally I thought we would be able to move past it and work it out, I saw it more of a trial separation than heading for divorce. We even purchased a home during this time, which was all done through power of attorney since at the time he was still out of the state. Long story short, he never moved back to Texas, and our marriage ultimately ended in divorce. Even though we separated in 5/2013, our marriage did not become final until 4/29/2015. Ever since our separation in 2013, I've been filing as head of household, since I take care of my nieces, and my ex and I were no longer living in the same residence. I also have about 4 traffic tickets, none in the past 3 years, which were all taken care of by paying fines or dismissed. One did go into an arrest warrant because I forgot about it, but I was never arrested, and I hired an attorney to resolve that matter which ended up in the arrest warrant being dismissed and the original speeding ticket was paid. Based on all these different issues in my case, would you all recommend hiring an attorney? Any advice would be appreciated, after reading some horror stories online I'm a little petrified of the naturalization process. Thanks.

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Good morning, I become eligible to apply for citizenship based on being a permanent resident for 5 years at the end of the July 2015. I wanted to get your input on whether I need to hire an attorney or not. I received my GC based on marriage to a USC. I became a conditional resident on 10/14/10, and two years later we applied to remove the condition on my GC which was approved with no issues. Soon after I found out my husband was having an affair, and we separated on may of 2013. At this point, my husband moved to New Jersey, where he is originally from to be with his mom who was having some problems. We still kept in touch, and originally I thought we would be able to move past it and work it out, I saw it more of a trial separation than heading for divorce. We even purchased a home during this time, which was all done through power of attorney since at the time he was still out of the state. Long story short, he never moved back to Texas, and our marriage ultimately ended in divorce. Even though we separated in 5/2013, our marriage did not become final until 4/29/2015. Ever since our separation in 2013, I've been filing as head of household, since I take care of my nieces, and my ex and I were no longer living in the same residence. I also have about 4 traffic tickets, none in the past 3 years, which were all taken care of by paying fines or dismissed. One did go into an arrest warrant because I forgot about it, but I was never arrested, and I hired an attorney to resolve that matter which ended up in the arrest warrant being dismissed and the original speeding ticket was paid. Based on all these different issues in my case, would you all recommend hiring an attorney? Any advice would be appreciated, after reading some horror stories online I'm a little petrified of the naturalization process. Thanks.

Hi,

Thank you for sharing and here some tips you might find helpful.

1. You know that you married in good faith. Things happen. People don't get along and get divorced. You received your green card based on marriage to a USC and now you're ready to file for citizenship using 5 yr rule. You did good and you followed the rules. Some people - when still married but separated - are eager to file under 3 yr rule thinking they can get away with it. So you're in the right track.

2. As far as taxes and filing as head of household...I had almost identical situation. It took a year to finalize the divorce in our case. And after we separated I filed my taxes as Single because my ex told me he doesn't see the future with me, he doesn't want to share his financials and thus I've been filing as single for 2012 and 2013 (we separated in 2012; the divorce was finalized in 2013). You're under 5 yr rule. All they concerned about is whether you pay your taxes on time. And it looks like you do. (That's all the officer asked me during the interview about taxes. Mind you I brought all 5 returns, and I was in installment agreement with the IRS to pay off my 2014 balance - he didn't even look at any of these..)

3. As far as the ticket that turned into an arrest warrant. Believe it or not - I had almost the same situation but it wasn't an arrest - they suspended my license! What happened is I got a speeding ticket in 2008, appealed it. While waiting for the appeal notice I met my ex-hb, we married, went to a honeymoon, moved to a new place, I never updated my drivers license. I only did it when I got my GC. And guess what? I'm getting a mail soon after that saying that 1.5 yrs ago I had a speeding ticket that I appealed, that I didnt show up for a hearing appeal twice (they re-scheduled it and sent notices to the old address) and that my driver's license is suspended. So I paid the suspension fee plus ticket fine, it was in total about $300 but that's it! I kept a copy of the court disposition. In addition, two years later I have three other traffic tickets (no DUI), and they're all paid. NONE OF THIS WAS AN ISSUE during my interview. The officer just asked if I ever been arrested or cited and if I had a DUI. I said no and explained what tickets I had. That's it. He never asked for any paperwork. The whole "ticket discussion" lasted 30 seconds. But it is recommended that for the interview you have a proof that all your tickets are paid and the arrests if any - are dismissed. So just have the paperwork in case they ask.

4. As far as the lawyer, I was exactly like you. I went to see a lawyer, explained the entire story and all she said is I don't need a lawyer, because number one - I apply under 5 yr rule, marriage is no longer as relevant as it is if I would apply under 3 yr rule. Also, all issues I had are covered (talking about speeding tickets and payment receipts), and I had a reasonable explanation of why my marriage broke - in case they ask but they never even asked. In fact, I married second time for 3 months (it's not even relevant to my GC, not mentioning citizenship), and he was curious why it was so short...(go figure).

5. As far as the horror stories...When I came to see my lawyer I was very stressed and nervous as well. And she said "You got to stop reading those blogs and forums! Everyone is different. You know you don't do anything wrong, your case is normal. As long as you're honest, as long as you don't have arrests and pay your taxes - you're fine"

So this is my thoughts to you. You shouldn't be nervous if you're being honest.

After all, I did have my attorney to review N400 before I sent it, and I insisted her to come and be present during the interview. From my friend's experience I know that some officers can be rude and I'm very sensitive to it. I can get very anxious and emotional and say something inappropriate in response. So just for my piece of mind she was with me. (It cost me less than $500 but I thought it was worth it rather than paying another $650 for application fee in 5 years in case of denial).

I personally think - you will be fine! Just stay confident. Good luck!

Edited by olna83

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Just to add... During the interview you still need to have copies of the arrest dismissal, paid traffic tickets, tax returns for the last 5 years, copies of marriage license and divorce decree. I also brought a proof of bone fide marriage. Small chance they will ask you for any of it but at least you'll be covered.

Good luck and keep us posted. :)

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olna83 gave an awesome response.

I'll just second that since you're applying based on the 5 year rule, not 3 years married to a USC, nothing about your ex matters with your naturalization. Just make sure you have proof of having paid those tickets/warrants dismissed and you should be fine.


K1 Visa Process AOS Process

Mar 18 2013: I-129F mailed to CSC Nov 15 2013: I-485 with EAD/AP filed at Chicago Lockbox

Sept 19 2013: Interview - Approved!! Jan 25 2014: EAD/AP Card Received

Oct 6 2013: POE - Chicago O'Hare June 2 2014: Permanent Resident Card Received!

Oct 27 2013: Wedding!

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I agree with the above posters that there should be no major issues in your case But I completely disagree that your marriage has nothing to do with your application. Since you got your green card through marriage the interviewer has every right to question whether that marriage was valid at the time that you got your green card. If for example, you had got your green card through employment, and then left your job immediately after getting your green card, the interviewer would have the right to look into that as well. In other words, the interviewer can always look back at how you got your green card. Unlike the three-year rule, he will not look into whether or not you are currently in a valid marriage.

Not all, but many, applicants have been asked questions about their exes after divorce. In fact, two applicants this year posted here on Visa journey that their exes were contacted by US CI S after the interview. One ex was was contacted on the phone and one was visited in person at her home. These are uncommon cases, but it is not correct to state that your previous marriage has nothing to do with your naturalization.


For a review of each step of my N-400 naturalization process, from application to oath ceremony, please click here.

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I agree with the above posters that there should be no major issues in your case But I completely disagree that your marriage has nothing to do with your application. Since you got your green card through marriage the interviewer has every right to question whether that marriage was valid at the time that you got your green card. If for example, you had got your green card through employment, and then left your job immediately after getting your green card, the interviewer would have the right to look into that as well. In other words, the interviewer can always look back at how you got your green card. Unlike the three-year rule, he will not look into whether or not you are currently in a valid marriage.

Not all, but many, applicants have been asked questions about their exes after divorce. In fact, two applicants this year posted here on Visa journey that their exes were contacted by US CI S after the interview. One ex was was contacted on the phone and one was visited in person at her home. These are uncommon cases, but it is not correct to state that your previous marriage has nothing to do with your naturalization.

JimmyHou,

I didn't say the marriage-sponsorship completely irrelevant, I said it's not as relevant as it is under 3 yr rule. And I actually pointed that as long as an applicant has a straight story, married in good faith and has a reasonable explanation of why marriage was termed then she should be fine.

And certainly, the officer has the right to ask. My officer also asked if my ex sponsored me the green card and I said yes. That was the end of the first marriage discussion.

As far as the applicants whose ex spouses were checked - USCIS should have a serious ground for suspicion in such cases. I'm pretty sure, not everyone wants to share the details - hence we all think the worst. I do remember one of the applicants mentioned that they called her ex but, excuse me, they split some time a year after they got married, and they were apart when he was getting his 10 yr green card.

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JimmyHou,

I didn't say the marriage-sponsorship completely irrelevant, I said it's not as relevant as it is under 3 yr rule. And I actually pointed that as long as an applicant has a straight story, married in good faith and has a reasonable explanation of why marriage was termed then she should be fine.

And certainly, the officer has the right to ask. My officer also asked if my ex sponsored me the green card and I said yes. That was the end of the first marriage discussion.

As far as the applicants whose ex spouses were checked - USCIS should have a serious ground for suspicion in such cases. I'm pretty sure, not everyone wants to share the details - hence we all think the worst. I do remember one of the applicants mentioned that they called her ex but, excuse me, they split some time a year after they got married, and they were apart when he was getting his 10 yr green card.

I think the above post was directed at me. I agree that the extent of the previous marriage in this case would be a question. She got the green card and removed conditions successfully. She's already proven at least twice that her marriage was valid and not fraud/green card motivated. Applying under the 5 year rule at this point, that previous marriage is likely to be nothing more than a quick question/confirmation.


K1 Visa Process AOS Process

Mar 18 2013: I-129F mailed to CSC Nov 15 2013: I-485 with EAD/AP filed at Chicago Lockbox

Sept 19 2013: Interview - Approved!! Jan 25 2014: EAD/AP Card Received

Oct 6 2013: POE - Chicago O'Hare June 2 2014: Permanent Resident Card Received!

Oct 27 2013: Wedding!

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One poster said that "nothing about your ex matters with your naturalization" under the five year rule. I'm just pointing out that that is incorrect. If I misunderstood the comment, that's my fault. The important thing is that we understand that anyone who got their green card through marriage may be ask about that marriage whether they are applying under the three-year or five-year rule and whether they are still married or divorced.

I don't disagree wirh anything else that's been shared here.

Edited by JimmyHou

For a review of each step of my N-400 naturalization process, from application to oath ceremony, please click here.

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As far as filing taxes goes I'm pretty sure that if you're legally married you can only file either Married Filing Separately or Married Filing Jointly.


Entry on VWP to visit then-boyfriend 06/13/2011

Married 06/24/2011

Our first son was born 10/31/2012, our daughter was born 06/30/2014, our second son was born 06/20/2017

AOS Timeline

AOS package mailed 09/06/2011 (Chicago Lockbox)

AOS package signed for by R Mercado 09/07/2011

Priority date for I-485&I-130 09/08/2011

Biometrics done 10/03/2011

Interview letter received 11/18/2011

INTERVIEW DATE!!!! 12/20/2011

Approval e-mail 12/21/2011

Card production e-mail 12/27/2011

GREEN CARD ARRIVED 12/31/2011

Resident since 12/21/2011

ROC Timeline

ROC package mailed to VSC 11/22/2013

NOA1 date 11/26/2013

Biometrics date 12/26/2013

Transfer notice to CSC 03/14/2014

Change of address 03/27/2014

Card production ordered 04/30/2014

10-YEAR GREEN CARD ARRIVED 05/06/2014

N-400 Timeline

N-400 package mailed 09/30/2014

N-400 package delivered 10/01/2014

NOA1 date 10/20/2014

Biometrics date 11/14/2014

Early walk-in biometrics 11/12/2014

In-line for interview 11/23/2014

Interview letter 03/18/2015

Interview date 04/17/2015 ("Decision cannot yet be made.")

In-line for oath scheduling 05/04/2015

Oath ceremony letter dated 05/11/2015

Oath ceremony 06/02/2015

I am a United States citizen!

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As far as filing taxes goes I'm pretty sure that if you're legally married you can only file either Married Filing Separately or Married Filing Jointly.

Well, the IRS states that to qualify for head of household you must be either single or considered unmarried. They go on to state that you are considered unmarried if your spouse has not lived with you for 6 or more months of the tax year, and have a qualifying child. So I'm sure I meet the head of household criteria. I just mentioned the head of household taxes because ever since we separated I've been filing that way. So even though our divorce wasn't final until this year, there is no claiming we were still together during this time. I received my 10 yr GC around December of 2012, and we separated in May of 2013. I was just wondering if the timeline would seem short to immigration and warrant scrutiny. Thanks.

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Well, the IRS states that to qualify for head of household you must be either single or considered unmarried. They go on to state that you are considered unmarried if your spouse has not lived with you for 6 or more months of the tax year, and have a qualifying child. So I'm sure I meet the head of household criteria. I just mentioned the head of household taxes because ever since we separated I've been filing that way. So even though our divorce wasn't final until this year, there is no claiming we were still together during this time. I received my 10 yr GC around December of 2012, and we separated in May of 2013. I was just wondering if the timeline would seem short to immigration and warrant scrutiny. Thanks.

The timeline you've described should not be an issue. You got separated 6 months after you received your 10 yr GC. I don't see any red flags in your case. I separated two months after I got my GC and one month later we filed for divorce. And the only question the IO asked about the marriage is if my ex sponsored me the GC. The answer is yes, and then he moved to another topic.

You will be fine!

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I had my interview on 12/17/15 and was recommended for approval. The interview itself did not last longer than 15 mins, but it was rocky. From the very beginning the officer kept asking about the timeline between removing my GC conditions and my separation, even went as far as saying that she didn't think my I-751 petition should have been approved. It was my worst fears come to live, but eventually she moved on to the rest of the interview, and to the government and English test. At the end, I was very surprised she marked the congratulations box on my N-652. I checked online today and my oath letter has been mailed! Praying everything goes well. Thank you all, and good luck on your journey.

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Wow. Thanks for returning with the positive update. All the best.


06-04-2007 = TSC stamps postal return-receipt for I-129f.

06-11-2007 = NOA1 date (unknown to me).

07-20-2007 = Phoned Immigration Officer; got WAC#; where's NOA1?

09-25-2007 = Touch (first-ever).

09-28-2007 = NOA1, 23 days after their 45-day promise to send it (grrrr).

10-20 & 11-14-2007 = Phoned ImmOffs; "still pending."

12-11-2007 = 180 days; file is "between workstations, may be early Jan."; touches 12/11 & 12/12.

12-18-2007 = Call; file is with Division 9 ofcr. (bckgrnd check); e-prompt to shake it; touch.

12-19-2007 = NOA2 by e-mail & web, dated 12-18-07 (187 days; 201 per VJ); in mail 12/24/07.

01-09-2008 = File from USCIS to NVC, 1-4-08; NVC creates file, 1/15/08; to consulate 1/16/08.

01-23-2008 = Consulate gets file; outdated Packet 4 mailed to fiancee 1/27/08; rec'd 3/3/08.

04-29-2008 = Fiancee's 4-min. consular interview, 8:30 a.m.; much evidence brought but not allowed to be presented (consul: "More proof! Second interview! Bring your fiance!").

05-05-2008 = Infuriating $12 call to non-English-speaking consulate appointment-setter.

05-06-2008 = Better $12 call to English-speaker; "joint" interview date 6/30/08 (my selection).

06-30-2008 = Stokes Interrogations w/Ecuadorian (not USC); "wait 2 weeks; we'll mail her."

07-2008 = Daily calls to DOS: "currently processing"; 8/05 = Phoned consulate, got Section Chief; wrote him.

08-07-08 = E-mail from consulate, promising to issue visa "as soon as we get her passport" (on 8/12, per DHL).

08-27-08 = Phoned consulate (they "couldn't find" our file); visa DHL'd 8/28; in hand 9/1; through POE on 10/9 with NO hassles(!).

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