Some California residents may be aware the U.S. Supreme Court announced on June 28 that it will consider whether U.S. immigration laws unfairly favor unwed American mothers over unwed American fathers, which would be a violation of the equal protection provision of the U.S. Constitution. The justices will hear the case next session and will hand down a decision by June 2017.
Some California residents may have been among the nearly 250,000 people who applied for citizenship over a four-month period beginning in October 2015. It is the highest number in several years.
People in California who are applying for U.S. citizenship may know that one of the requirements is that the person be "of good moral character" and wonder what that means in a practical sense. First, it is only necessary to prove that this has been the case for the last five years. People who are applying as the spouse of a U.S. citizen only need to prove good moral character for the past three years.
California residents may know that the immigrant spouses of U.S. citizens or permanent residents may apply for naturalization, but they may not be aware that they may sometimes seek a green card even if their marriages have not endured. Immigrant women hoping for a marriage-based green card were once at the mercy of their American husbands, but the Violence Against Women Act of 1994 put contingencies in place to protect female victims of domestic abuse.
California is a very popular state for those who have been granted permanent resident status by U.S. immigration authorities. Green card holders must live in the United States for five years before they can apply for naturalization, and many of them worry that their path to citizenship could be a rocky one if they get into trouble with the law. Permanent residents may be denied citizenship and face deportation agreements if they are convicted of serious crimes like murder or armed robbery, and even seemingly minor drug possession charges could cause them trouble.
Advocacy groups for the path to citizenship across California and the rest of America have been working to streamline and improve the immigration process. Although legislative reform appears to have a difficult time coming to fruition, there has still been much progress from the private sector and among various immigration-related groups. For example, one group has automated the specific immigration application used by many prospective new Americans, thereby reducing the arduous task to a series of questions on a website. This has helped many applicants tremendously with both outreach and enrollment.
California residents who were not born in the United States and who have one parent who became a U.S. citizen when they were a minor may wonder whether that conferred citizenship on them as well. If a child is a permanent resident, there are circumstances under which they might become citizens when a parent does. The rules are different depending on whether the person was 18 or older on Feb. 27, 2001 or was under 18 or not yet born on that date.
A California man has been charge in connection with an alleged scam that promised citizenship to immigrants for fees of up to $10,000. The operation used adult adoptions as its method for gaining citizenship for immigrants who were willing to pay the fee. The 63-year-old man who ran the operation was charged with conspiracy and twelve fraud charges on Feb. 11.
Permanent U.S. residents in California who need to leave the country for a lengthy period may wonder whether this will affect their ability to become naturalized citizens. Immigration law states that in order to apply for naturalization, immigrants must have a period of continuous residence, and a period of time abroad of more than six months ends that continuous residence. However, there are exceptions.
Californians may be interested to learn about a recently announced push by Mexico to encourage legal immigrants from the country in the U.S. to go ahead and seek dual citizenship in both countries. The Mexican government has indicated it is encouraging legal immigrants to become naturalized U.S. citizens in order to empower themselves.