Overview of the U.S. Naturalization Process
Eligibility for Naturalization & Requirements
The naturalization process is a legal procedure that allows a foreign national to become a U.S. citizen once he or she has met the legal criteria. Becoming a naturalized citizen allows people who are not born in a certain country a path to citizenship and provides many benefits, including the ability to vote, bring family members to the U.S., elminate the need to renew your green card, and more.
Even after you immigrate to the U.S. and have gained lawful entry and residency in the United States, you may not be finished. You may decide, either from the beginning or some time later, that you want to become a United States citizen. This process is just as detailed and complex as the immigration process and involves very specific qualifications.
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) requires a naturalization applicant to meet one or more of the following criteria:
- 18 or older
- A green card holder and continuous U.S. residence for at least five years; or the spouse of a U.S. citizen for at least three years
- Be physically present in the U.S. for at least 30 months out of the 5 years
- Having lived in the state or USCIS district for at least three months before applying
- Reside continuously in the U.S. from the date of application to the time of naturalization
- Be able to read, write, and speak English and have knowledge and understanding of U.S. history and government
- Be a person of good moral character, following the principles of the Constitution and dedicated to the order and happiness of the U.S. under law
How to Apply for Naturalized Citizenship
The USCIS provides five steps to guide applicants through the naturalization process.
- The first is preparing to apply. This involves reading A Guide to Naturalization published by the USCIS, completing their eligibility worksheet, acquiring an application for naturalization Form N-400, and visiting their website. The second step is to complete the application and to acquire all the necessary documents. These include two passport-style photographs, certain legal documents, and a fee. You should also keep a copy of anything you submit.
- Next, you must get fingerprinted at a qualified fingerprinting location. To do so, you must make an appointment with the USCIS and visit your local office on that date to have your fingerprints taken.
- After this, the USCIS may request additional documents and will schedule your naturalization interview. The interview is arguably the most and difficult part of the naturalization process. During this interview, you will answer questions regarding your application and your background and must bring state-issued I.D., your permanent resident card, and any addition documents required of you.
- Lastly, you will take the vitally important English and civics tests, which must be passed before the process can continue.
Once you pass the naturalization tests, you will receive a date for the citizenship ceremony. This ceremony involves returning your green card, answering questions about what you have done since your interview, and taking the Oath of Allegiance. The process is then complete and you will receive your Certificate of Naturalization. You will then be granted all the freedoms, benefits, and responsibilities of a United States citizen.
Contact Our Firm
Brown Immigration Law has assisted countless permanent residents in attaining citizenship status. If you would like to get the process started, a North Carolina immigration lawyer could make the process easier and more understandable.
Call today to discuss your options, determine your eligibility, and start down the road to U.S. citizenship.