What does the naturalization process look like?
- To become a US Citizen, a Green Card holder begins the process by completing the USCIS form N-400 Application for Naturalization.
- Gather all supporting documentation, proper identification, and filing fee, which will be submitted with the application to the USCIS.
- Receive the I-797C Receipt Notice in the mail from the USCIS, which confirms your application was received.
- Receive the Biometrics Services Appointment letter, which informs you of the time and date for your biometric appointment at the local USCIS Application Support Center. At this appointment, you will be fingerprinted. Failure to attend the biometrics services appointment may result in denial of your application.
- After you complete this appointment, then you will receive your Naturalization Interview notice. You will have to bring ID, permanent resident card and any other documents specific to your case listed on the letter. There you will answer questions about your application and background. You will also take the English and civics test.
- Receive a decision regarding your application for Naturalization. There are only three possible decisions: Granted, Continued, or Denied.
- If granted, then you will go on to the next step and receive a notice to take the Oath of Allegiance.
- If continued, you may need to provide additional documents or evidence, or you neglected to provide the correct documents originally, or you failed the English and/or Civics test.
- If denied, then you are not eligible for naturalization.
- If granted, then you will receive a notice to take Oath of Allegiance. You are required to return your permanent resident card and answer questions about what you have done since your interview. Then you will take the oath and receive your certificate of Naturalization!
How do I qualify to become a US Citizen?
- You have to be at least 18 years of age at the time of application.
- You have been a Green Card holder.1
- Living in the US for the last 3 years and living with your US citizen spouse2 and you have not been out of the country for 18 months or more during that time.
- Or living in the US for the last 5 years and have NOT been out of the US for 30 months or more during that time.
- You have not taken a trip out of the US that lasted more than one year.
- You have been living in the District or State in which I am applying for citizenship for the last 3 months.
- You can read, write and speak basic English unless you meet one of the exemptions.
- Have a basic knowledge of US government
- You must meet the good moral character requirements.
- If male, you must meet the Selective Service requirements.
1. Lawful Permanent Resident
2. You have to be married for at least 3 years and your US citizen spouse has to have been a US citizen for at least the past three years.
If I do not meet the basic requirements above, can I still become a citizen?
Most applicant’s for US Citizenship will meet the basic requirements, but there are special circumstances and exceptions made for some individuals that cannot meet every requirement. Listed below are a few exceptions to the basic requirements for naturalization.
- If you served in the US Armed Forces.
- A relative served in the US Armed Forces.
- You are under 18 years of age, and your parents or adopted parents are US Citizens.
- If you have a disability that prevents you from fulfilling some of the requirements, then there may be exceptions
- You may be exempt from the requirements to read, write, or speak basic English depending on your age and length of residency in the US as a green card holder.
Do I have to be in the US when I file my application?
No. There is a process for filing from overseas.
How long does the process take to become a US citizen?
You should be prepared for the process to take anywhere from 6 months to a year. Each situation is different, and many factors affect the process to shorten or lengthen it. The USCIS is working to improve and shorten the process to an average of 6 months, but the time it takes to be naturalized varies by location.
What are the benefits of becoming a US Citizen?
- The threat of deportation is eliminated.
- The right to travel freely with your US Passport.
- The rights and freedoms enjoyed by all Americans, listed below.
- Citizenship benefits for your children under the age of 18.
- The opportunity to sponsor family members for their Green Card to the US.
What are the rights and responsibilities of becoming a US Citizen?
- Freedom to express yourself.
- Freedom to worship as you wish.
- Right to a prompt, fair trial by jury.
- Right to vote in elections for public officials.
- Right to apply for federal employment requiring U.S. citizenship.
- Right to run for elected office.
- Freedom to pursue “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
- Support and defend the Constitution.
- Stay informed of the issues affecting your community.
- Participate in the democratic process.
- Respect and obey federal, state, and local laws.
- Respect the rights, beliefs, and opinions of others.
- Participate in your local community.
- Pay income and other taxes honestly, and on time, to federal, state, and local authorities.
- Serve on a jury when called upon.
- Defend the country if the need should arise.
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