Do you need a lawyer?
I think so. Here’s why.
You don’t really know the law.
Immigration law is complicated. Citizenship law is complicated. The length of the citizenship form and the questions on it give some hint of this, but they are just the start of the problem. Can paying your taxes late or being behind on alimony or child support affect your naturalization application? How about a having had a shoplifting charge dismissed after you completed a program suggested by a court? What about having extended your visit to your home country from two months to seven months when your father or mother became ill while you were visiting? Any of these situations and dozens of others could be a problem. At least one of these problems could result in your being placed in removal proceedings (deportation). Whether something could cause problems in your case varies on when it occurred, the exact facts of what happened, what the laws of your state are and on how you explain them in your application and at your interview.
Don’t make the mistake of relying on the advice of relatives and friends or copying their old applications. Have an attorney prepare your application.
You don’t know the Immigration Service.
An Immigration examiner’s job is to enforce the law. The examiner is not a teacher, guidance counselor or therapist. He or she is not here to be “on your side.” While most examiners are businesslike and many are helpful and friendly, it is not their job to get you out of a jam if you are ineligible for citizenship or deportable or to teach you what you should have known before you applied.
Worse still, a significant minority of examiners have negative attitudes. What you might think of as a small problem (carrying an expired driver’s license, forgetting to list a thirty-year old dismissed criminal charge on your application, marital problems, or changing jobs soon after getting your green card) may seem large to a jaundiced examiner.
Hoping that the examiner will like you and help you over any bumpy moments of your interview is not a sound strategy for gaining citizenship. Having a lawyer complete your application and advise you makes more sense.