Naturalization Guide: Everything You Need to Know About Naturalization

Naturalization

 

Naturalization is the process by which U.S. citizenship is granted to someone after they satisfy certain requirements set-forth in the U.S. immigration regulations.

 

In this guide, I will explain what you need to know about the naturalization process.

 

If you have any questions, please feel free to email me directly at Michael@AshooriLaw.com. I’m a U.S. immigration lawyer, I’m very responsive via email, and I’d be happy to help you.

 

Overview

 

  1. Introduction to Naturalization
  2. Benefits of Naturalization
  3. Naturalization Requirements
  4. Naturalization Process
  5. Required Documents for Naturalization
  6. Naturalization Fees
  7. Naturalization Processing Time
  8. Conclusion

 

1. Introduction to Naturalization

 

There are multiple ways for someone to become a citizen of the United States.

 

Birthright Citizenship

 

If you are born in the United States, you are granted U.S. citizenship based on the principle of birthright citizenship which is protected under the 14th Amendment. The 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution states that “all persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.” [U.S. Constitution Amendment XIV, Section 1]

 

Birth to U.S. Citizen Outside of the United States

 

In addition to birthright citizenship, someone who was born outside of the United States to U.S. citizen parents may also be granted U.S. citizenship. There are many details and requirements for this form of acquiring citizenship. If you were born outside of the U.S. to U.S. citizen parents, you should discuss with an immigration lawyer to see if you may qualify for U.S. citizenship through this route. [7 Foreign Affairs Manuel (FAM) 1110.]

 

Naturalization  

 

Naturalization is the process by which U.S. citizenship is granted to a foreign citizen or national after he or she satisfies certain requirements established by Congress. [Citizenship Through Naturalization, USCIS]

 

2. Benefits of Naturalization

 

There are multiple benefits associated with naturalizing to become a U.S. citizen. Here are a few:

 

  • Ability to vote in U.S. elections
  • Ability to travel with a U.S. passport
  • More options to sponsor family members to get U.S. immigration benefits
  • Ability to get citizenship for children born outside of the U.S.
  • Ability to leave the live outside of the U.S. without the risk of losing your status

 

3. Naturalization Requirements

 

There are multiple requirements to become a U.S. citizen through naturalization:

 

Age

 

In order to apply for naturalization, you must be at least 18 years old. [8 CFR Section 316.2(a)(1)]

 

Must be a U.S. Lawful Permanent Resident

 

In order to naturalize, you must be a lawful permanent resident of the United States. [8 CFR Section 316.2(a)(2)]

 

Important point: Please note that at the time of the naturalization interview, USCIS may inquire and investigate as to how you became a permanent resident.

 

Continuous Residence

 

In order to naturalize, you must have “continuously resided” in the United States for five years. This requirement is one of the more confusing requirements for naturalization. To satisfy this requirement, you should be able to show that you do not have any prolonged absences from the United States. Absences from the U.S. for between 6 months and 1 year will likely be seen as a disruption in continuous residence unless you can show otherwise. Absences of longer than 1 year will certainly be seen as a break in continuity of residence. [8 CFR Section 316.2(a)(3)]

 

Absences of Between 6 Months to 1 Year

 

Absences of between 6 months and 1 year will break the continuity of residence requirement, unless you can demonstrate that you did not disrupt your continuity of residence.

 

Here is some helpful evidence to show that you did not disrupt your continuity of residence:

 

  • Showing that you maintained employment in the U.S.
  • Showing that you did not obtain employment outside of the U.S.
  • Showing that your immediate family remained in the U.S.
  • Showing that you maintained a U.S. residence (ex. Lease agreement, utility bills, etc.)

 

Absences of More than 1 Year

 

If you remain outside of the U.S. for longer than 1 year, you will certainly be found to have disrupted the continuity of residence. You will not be able to provide evidence.

 

Important Points Regarding Continuous Residence:

 

  • Reentry Permits: A reentry permit will not preserve your continuity of residence. If you leave the U.S. for longer than 6 months with a reentry permit, you may be permitted to re-enter the U.S. using the reentry permit, but the reentry permit will not help to preserve your “continuous residence.”

 

  • N-470: The N-470 is the Application to Preserve Residence for Naturalization Purposes. If you must leave the U.S. for a certain period of time and want to preserve your “continuous residence” you may wish to explore the N-470 as a possible solution. The N-470 has very specific requirements and only certain people are eligible.

 

  • Special Rule if Married to a U.S. Citizen (3-Years of Continuous Residence Instead of 5): For certain applicants, you only have to show 3 years of continuous residence in the United States. To qualify, you must be a lawful permanent resident and show that you are married to a U.S. citizen spouse and that you have been living with your U.S. citizen spouse in marital union for at least 3 years since becoming a permanent resident. This is a highly technical rule that requires detailed explanation to fully understand.  If you have questions, feel free to email me directly at Michael@AshooriLaw.com. [8 CFR Section 319.1(a)(2)]

 

  • Applying Early: You may be eligible to apply for naturalization up to 90 days before the day that you will actually satisfy the continuous residency requirement. So, if you must show 5 years of continuous presence, you may be eligible to apply for naturalization after 4 years and 275 days of continuous presence. If you must show 3 years of continuous presence, you may be eligible to apply for naturalization after 2 years and 275 days of continuous presence.

 

 

3 Months of Residence in a State

 

To qualify for naturalization, you must show that you have resided in the state or service district, that you will apply for naturalizing in, for at least 3 months before filing your application for naturalization. [8 CFR Section 316.2(a)(3)]

 

Special Rule if Married to a U.S. Citizen: If you are applying for naturalization early (based on marriage to a U.S. citizen) then you must show that you resided in a particular state for at least months before your naturalization interview (not 3 months before filing the application for naturalization).

 

 

Physical Presence

 

In order to naturalize, you must show that you have been physically present in the U.S. as a lawful permanent resident for at least half of the previous 5 years prior to applying for naturalization. This requirement is very straightforward compared to the “continuous residence” requirement. To satisfy this requirement, you must show that you have been physically present inside the united states for at least 30 months over the last 5 years. [8 CFR Section 316.2(a)(4)]

 

Special Rule if Married to U.S. Citizen: For certain applicants, you only have to show that you’ve been physically present in the U.S. as a lawful permanent resident for half of the previous 3 years (not 5 years) prior to applying for naturalization. To qualify, you must be a lawful permanent resident and show that you are married to a U.S. citizen spouse and that you have been living with your U.S. citizen spouse in marital union for at least 3 years since becoming a permanent resident.  [8 CFR Section 319.1(a)(4)]

 

  

Good Moral Character

 

In order to naturalize, you must show that you’ve been a person of good moral character throughout the previous 5-year period prior to filing your naturalization application. To determine that you satisfy this requirement, USCIS looks at several factors including prior criminal convictions, drinking habits, tax payment history, etc. [8 CFR Section 316.10]

 

Special Rule if Married to U.S. Citizen: For certain applicants, you only have to show that you’ve have good moral character for the previous 3-year period (not 5 years) prior to applying for naturalization. To qualify, you must be a lawful permanent resident and show that you are married to a U.S. citizen spouse and that you have been living with your U.S. citizen spouse in marital union for at least 3 years since becoming a permanent resident.

 

There are multiple reasons that someone can be found to lack good moral character. Here are just a few:

 

  • Committing one or more “crimes involving moral turpitude” (CIMT)
  • Being involved in prostitution
  • If you’ve violated any laws regarding controlled substances (other than single offense for simple possession of 30 grams or less of marijuana)
  • If you’ve been involved in alien smuggling
  • If you have practiced or are practicing polygamy

 

In addition to these reasons, there are several other ways that USCIS can determine that someone lacks good moral character. It is important to discuss your case with an experienced immigration lawyer prior to applying for naturalization.

 

Applying for naturalization with certain criminal conviction can lead to serious consequences to your immigration status, including being permanently ineligible to naturalize or even getting put into removal proceedings! For these reasons, it is highly important to consult with an immigration lawyer before filing your naturalization application.

 

English Proficiency

 

In order to naturalize, you must demonstrate that you have an understanding of the English language. You demonstrate this by reading and writing a sentence in English. [8 CFR Section 316.10]

 

Certain people are exempt from this requirement. To see if you are exempt, please feel free to email me directly at Michael@AshooriLaw.com.

 

Civics Test

 

In order to naturalize, you must demonstrate that you have a basic knowledge of the form of government of the United State, as well as a basic understanding of U.S. history. [8 CFR Section 316.10]

 

To test your knowledge, you are required to take a 10-question test and you must answer at least 6 of the 10 questions correctly.

 

There are many study materials available to help you pass the civics test.

 

Oath of Allegiance

 

In order to naturalize, you must take an oath stating that you will support and defend the constitution among other things. [8 CFR Section 316.11]

 

You may qualify to take a modified Oath of Allegiance if certain circumstances apply.

 

4. Naturalization Process

 

The process of naturalization to become a U.S. citizen consists of 3 main steps:

 

  • File Form N-400
  • Attend Biometrics Appointment
  • Attend Naturalization Interview
  • Oath of Allegiance Ceremony

 

File Form N-400

 

The N-400 is the Application for Naturalization. This is the form that must be filed with USCIS in order to apply for naturalization. The N-400 may be filed online or by paper application.

 

Attend Biometrics Appointment

 

About 4 to 6 weeks after filing the Form N-400, you will receive a notice in the mail to attend a mandatory biometrics appointment. At the biometrics appointment, you will have your fingerprints taken digitally.

 

Attend Naturalization Interview

 

Several months after you file the Form N-400 and attend the biometrics appointment, you will be called in to attend a naturalization interview. At the naturalization interview you will be required to answer various questions about your application for naturalization (Form N-400). At the naturalization interview, you will also perform your English proficiency test as well as your civics test.

 

Attend Oath of Allegiance Ceremony

 

About 2 to 4 weeks after your successful naturalization interview, you will be required to take the Oath of Allegiance. At this ceremony you must take an oath stating that you will support and defend the constitution among other things.  After the Oath of Allegiance, you receive your Certificate of Naturalization.

 

5. Required Documents for Naturalization

 

Documents Necessary to Include with N-400

In order to apply for naturalization, you must submit multiple documents along with your Form N-400. The documents you will need to submit will depend on the facts of your particular case. With that said, here is a general list which includes some of the documents you may need to include with your application:

 

  • 2 Passport Photos
  • Copy of Green Card (Form I-551)
  • Copy of Driver’s License
  • Copy of You Marriage Certificate (if applicable)

 

Documents Necessary at Naturalization Interview

In addition to the required documents to include with your N-400 application, it is also required that you bring certain documents with you to the naturalization interview.

 

Here is  a general list of some of the documents that you may need to bring with you to the naturalization interview:

  • Green Card
  • State-Issued I.D. Card or Driver’s License
  • Passport
  • Marriage Certificate (if applicable)
  • Evidence of Name Change (if applicable)
  • Tax Returns for the Past 5 Years (or 3 Years in Certain Cases)
  • Evidence that you Maintained Continuous Residence in the U.S.

 

6. Naturalization Fees

 

The current filing fee for the N-400 (at the time of the publication of the guide) is $640. There is also an additional fee of $85 for biometrics. So, the total fee is $725.

 

You may check here to see the current filing fee for the N-400.

 

7. Naturalization Processing Time

 

The naturalization processing time, from start to finish, typically takes around 10-14 months. The processing time will vary depending on the jurisdiction you are filing your naturalization application in. In some jurisdictions, the naturalization processing time is shorter than other jurisdictions.

 

You may click this link to check the average processing time in your jurisdiction.

 

8. Conclusion

 

The process of naturalizing to become a U.S. citizen can be an extremely exciting time. There are many benefits to U.S. citizenship, some of which have been discussed in this guide. However, the process of naturalization can also be stressful and confusing. Therefore, if you have any questions about naturalization, or if you need help applying for naturalization, email me directly at Michael@AshooriLaw.com. I’d be happy to answer your questions.

 

Resources

 

 

Vincent Morrow
05:57 19 Oct 20
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highland cell24connect
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Life Mizrahi
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B Goody
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02:22 29 Sep 20
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20:49 26 Sep 20
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23:46 13 Sep 20
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Freuet Solutions
22:49 08 Sep 20
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Ha Ka
17:48 02 Sep 20
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Tarek
11:57 02 Sep 20
Started working with Michael Ashoori firm around march this year during the pandemic, but despite these difficult times they guided me step by step and they were always there when ever i had a question or clarification.Lahaina was great, very... professional immigration attorney and of very help through out all the process.She guided me all the way till i got my L1 visa approved.They have this portal system while they post in details every single document needed to ensure the success of the petition. I just had to collect all these documents, upload them on the portal and then they take it from there, they prepared everything and filled up the petition. Their job doesn’t stop here since most of the petitions gets an RFE from USCIS, so they continue by preparing whats needed and resubmit again till i got the reply that my petition was approved.Over all, Michael and his team are very professional and they really know what they are doing and they stay updated with all the recent laws and regulations going on. Highly recommendedread more
Ahmed Gaber
21:44 03 Aug 20
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Vj M
03:58 14 Jul 20
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18:03 07 Jul 20
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Allen
18:58 25 Jun 20
Great institutions like Ashoori law firm are made by great people, and there are no finer individuals than those who dedicated themselves to assist clients with different cases like mine. “HONEST & EMPATHETIC” are the words that come to mind when I... think of Lahaina and the rest of her amazing team! Highly professional and experienced immigration attorney who provided excellent service, demonstrating personal attention to all details of your cases. They show compassion by studying clients' stories.They certainly know the immigration process and help you fully prepare for the case and interview. They are always making sure that the whole process goes very smooth. I especially want to thank “Lahaina Araneta” attorney & Michael Ashoori. If you are a really nervous client like me, these people are always super patient and kind with you. If anyone is looking for immigration help, “Ashoori law firm” should be your very first choice for sure because they can really get things done!Working with Lahaina Araneta was absolutely great. She helped me through my entire journey without any hesitations. I always got answers whenever I had questions. I will definitely work with “HER” again on my next journey. She helped me a lot from the beginning of my case (naturalization case). She is attentive to details and very informative. She also quickly responded to my questions about my status. I can't say enough about her. I was completely dazzled by her communication skills and courage in communications with the USCIS office. I am blown away by her integrity and all the hard work she has done on my behalf. I will always be grateful for all of her efforts. Lahaina I just want to thank you for the excellent work you did as my immigration attorney. I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to you for all the cares and concerns you have shown me, and for working tirelessly. if it weren’t for your analytical skills and knowledge, the matter wouldn’t have been settled by now. I knew you have a lot of clients, so your prompt responses and attention to detail really meant a lot to me. Having an experienced attorney like you on my side was a good sign that I was walking into the right path to win the case. Thank you Lahaina for your support during my N-400 application process, and for helping me to get the desired outcome. You don't know how much your passion impacts the lives of others.read more
Sandie Galloway
18:41 10 Jun 20
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Rw Right
17:39 06 Jun 20
Look no further. There are solid reasons why they get straight 5 stars in this review.They work as a (great) team and everyone is very knowledgeable and reliable. Micheal posts timely insightful topics on Youtube, in addition to answering all of... your personal questions quickly and responsively.read more
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09:10 03 Jun 20
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00:03 16 May 20
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Jackson Lee
02:08 15 May 20
Ashoori and Lahaina are very professional and detail. They responded to my questions with terms that I can understand without any hidden agenda.I wish I hired them when I first applying my E2. They are the lowest in fees and most professional... immigration lawyer that I had encounter. We go through all the process through phone and email without meeting in person and I got my E2 renewal approved.Way better then any immigration lawyer that I had meet in person in NYC.Will definitely stick with them and recommend them to all my friends and family.read more
Paula Almeida Lança
19:27 08 May 20
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persia falcon
21:00 05 May 20
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Vergel Cornelio
02:15 02 May 20
Michael's law firm is compose of professionals who are working more than the sake of their clients. They care on their clients with their situation and help without limitation. They attend to all questions timely and return with immediate solutions... to secure all will be resolved and all worries were eased. I highly recommend and refer this firm to all related US re-entry and immigration concerns.read more
Brandon Kim
09:17 01 May 20
Utilizing the services of Ashoori Law has been a pleasure and an outstanding experience. I highly recommend Ashoori Law to anyone who needs immigration assistance. With the help of Ashoori Law my spouse and I were able to get our immigration... documents seamlessly and without no issues. Ashoori Law is very customer oriented and from Day 1 is always available for you if you have any questions or concerns. Going forward, my spouse and I definitely plan to use Ashoori Law for future immigration services.read more
Divina Chingcuanco
01:33 29 Apr 20
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Titi Bern
00:04 25 Apr 20
Michael and his team are great! I had them recommended to me by my community who used them. Starting from an initial consultation, to working on the paperwork, to submitting to USCIS, everything as been smooth without any issue. In addition, they... answered all the question we had - SUPER fast - or whenever we called them they were very responsive.read more
Richard Norton
03:17 24 Apr 20
I recently employed the services of Michael Ashoori and Ashoori Law to help with the lodging of a Re Entry Visa for my wife and myself. I am delighted with the result and the expediency with which Asoori Law handled our application.We now have... approval of our visas and couldn't be happier. One of the stand out aspects of dealing with Ashoori was the fact that I could tel or email Michael at any-time and would always receive a prompt response by return email. This personal connection with the company during the process made me feel I was dealing with a friend and that I could reach out to at any time I had a question, rather than being treated as another client. I can in all confidence recommend Ashoori Law for Immigration matters due to this wonderful experience and the way my application was handled. Sincerely. Richard and Judy Norton.read more
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22:17 23 Apr 20
Ashoori Law handled my green card travel document renewal application professionally and got results faster than I anticipated. Their preliminary phone advice saved my family from unnecessary Transpacific travel, and their subsequent paperwork... management and guidance made the process much less daunting. Ashoori understand the nuances of a changing USA immigration system, and I highly recommend retaining them to navigate it with you. I've tackled similar paperwork alone before, but after this experience I'll be working with Ashoori again in the future.read more
Kuldeep Kaur
17:42 10 Apr 20
I had question about eb1 process and my alternatives to stay along with priority date timelines ie options to move over to another visa type like h1, to continue waiting for green card processing, all of my questions are very well taken by the... immigration consultant ( Karla Samayoa) , she has very strong hold on the processes and options available to candidates, i would certainly recommend her for immigration consulting on l1a visa and eb1 visa and green card application. I give her 5 startsThank youread more
Hansel Gonzalez
13:56 09 Apr 20
I reached out to Ashoori Law in order to obtain my US Re-Entry permit late last year. The whole team was friendly, knowledgeable and prompt to my many questions. Michael himself would answer any questions along the way after submission, which... assured me my case was important and on their radar. Having worked with various immigration lawyers in various countries I’ve worked at (6, so far), I know that is not always the case. I recommend to consider Ashoori Law for your US immigration needs, and I expect to reach out to them whenever I next need services in regards to US immigration.read more
ajay sharma
18:04 08 Apr 20
Michael and his team members are very professional and easy to work with. For my reentry permit application I was running bit tight on time but Michael helped all possible way to make the process smoother and faster.Their process of data... collection, fees etc are very streamlined and transparent.Michale was always approachable and very fast on his responses. He always made sure that I get the latest update immediately if their office heard anything about my case.In short, I highly recommend Michael and his team. You will enjoy working with them.read more
Tiyu Wang
14:27 18 Mar 20
Working with Michael was a pleasure from the beginning to the end. Through the experience of obtaining my re-entry permit, I got to witness first-hand his professionalism, expertise, and attention to detail.Some things that I really... appreciated:-Taking the time to work out the strategy for me, explaining the options I have and the solutions to potential situations that could arise.-Responding quickly and with well-thought out responses, when I emailed him with questions.-Being very meticulous (him as well as his staff) in ensuring the that logistics of my application were executed expediently and carefully.My case was not a big one, yet Michael behaved as if it were a big case. For that he certainly has earned my return business for immigration cases in the future, and I heartily recommend his services to anyone looking for a truly exceptional immigration lawyer.read more
Nello Trops
13:26 12 Mar 20
I have retained Ashoori Law for my immigration needs, I did work with a previous immigration attorney as well this is what I can say. The amount of information Ashoori Law provides to the general public by maintaining newsletters, blogs etc... sold... me, Ashhori Law takes the time to inform the general public and educate the general public who is interested in immigrated to the US that is of great value. After hiring Ashhori Law the process was smooth and clear, the response times are optimal. They are honest and are not just sitting around trying to make a quick buck when there's no hope. They truly advise you properly and are very transparent as well, no hidden fees. They were successful in filling my immigration needs and hands down I can recommend them to all my friends and contacts. Michael and Lahaina are professionals, they respond quickly and inform you quickly of any changes if any. I will definitely use them again in the near future. Thank youread more
emma Daniels
02:18 06 Mar 20
Karla was Very friendly to chat with and helpful
James Corcoran
14:38 05 Mar 20
I posting this for my wife in China VPN not workingI am so impressed by Mr. Michael Ashoori and will not hesitate to recommend him to you as one of the best immigration attorneys!!!For my case, I had an urgent timeline to apply for a re-entry... permit. To make it more complicated, I had multiple international travel plans during the application period. I reached out to quite a few attorneys for assistances. They either turned me down directly due to the time constrain or did not reply at all. On the contrary, Michael assured the feasibility of such an application during the first teleconference. Just as what he told me, all worked out perfectly under his coordination.To me, the following sets Mr. Michael Ashoori and his team apart from most of his peers:1) He is not only knowledge of the immigration laws and regulations but also highly familiar of the immigration authorities’ operation details. This is extremely critical to an urgent case since every step matters.2) He has the right AI system setup to monitor the daily workflows and handle the repetition workloads. Therefore, his team can focus on the key variables and client interactions efficiently.3) His fee is very reasonable and competitive.4) He cares about his clients as a friend. That is precious in a business world.You are in good hands if you pick Mr. Michael Ashoori and his team!read more
Humayun Tariq
08:09 05 Mar 20
I applied for the re- entry permit with Micheal Ashoori. I can say without a doubt, Micheal is the most helpful lawyer I have found there. What I love about Micheal is that he is really accessible to anyone, unlike other lawyers. He is always... available for a consultation call and clears out the queries patiently. He gives the best advice suited to the situation which has really helped me out with my planning.When I decided to apply for my re- entry permit with Micheal, he assisted me throughout the process. I just had to mail him the signed copy of the application and rest was handled by him and his team.Also, his team members, specifically Lahaina Araneta, are a joy to work with. They have been very responsive on e-mail even if it is late at night.Micheal, along with his team members, is very polite and never rushes an answer.I would definitely recommend everyone to work with Micheal if they need legal assistance in delicate matters such as immigration. He is the best you can get out there in terms of being responsible, responsive and accessible.read more
Sriram Akella
06:07 27 Feb 20
Worked with Micheal for applying reentry permits for my wife and myself. He prepared all the paper work and was ready so that we could file the day we landed in US. Very Friendly and answered all my questions with patience.Would definitely... recommend him for any immigration related work.read more
bardia bahrami
00:02 26 Feb 20
He was awesome, everything was straight forward with Michael and his team. I received my re-entry permit 6 weeks after submitting my request .
Tom Tam
17:43 22 Feb 20
This lawyer was awesome and helped my family with our own immigration case! 10/10 would recommend!
Remo Barducci
07:56 14 Feb 20
From the very first call where we were taken through the process right through to completion, all the interaction with Ashoori has been of the highest level . The advice we were given , how we were steered through the whole process and the brilliant... communication was simply faultless . Even though we are based in Australia on the other side of the world , time zones were no issue . Anyone planning on using Ashoori law, we recommend them very highlyread more
Blake McGrath
03:01 14 Feb 20
I needed to apply for an E-3 visa from Australia and Ashoori Law made the process very simple. All the required documents were provided as long as important information regarding the visa process, what was required for interviews and all other... relevant information. They have answered any questions I have had in a timely manner and have made the process and application and confirmation of the visa run very smoothly.Highly recommended.read more
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Michael Ashoori Headshot

Michael Ashoori, Esq.

U.S. Immigration Lawyer

I’m a U.S. immigration lawyer and I help families, professionals, investors, and entrepreneurs get visas, green cards, and citizenship to the United States.

Since starting my law firm, I’ve helped hundreds of people from all over the world with their immigration needs. I’m very passionate, hard-working, and committed to my clients.

Got a question? Send me an email.