After you have received your Green card, you can continue to renew it regularly or you can apply to become a U.S citizen. Although you are not required to apply for U.S citizenship when you receive your Green card, becoming a U.S citizens has its benefits. As a U.S citizen, you will have the right to vote in federal elections and run for public office. You will be entitled to carry a U.S passport, and sponsor your family members and relatives to the country and also for their Green card. Once you have decided to become a citizen of this country, the first thing you should do is to file Form N-400, Application for Naturalization with the USCIS.
After becoming a Green card holder (Permanent resident), you have to establish a 5 year continuous residency (without any extended absences) in the U.S to apply for Naturalization. If you are married to a U.S citizen, you have to establish a 3 year continuous residency in the U.S after receiving your Green card. If you are a Green card holder and fulfil the required conditions of established residency, you can apply for Naturalization.
File Form N-400:
You need to file Form N-400 with the USCIS as the first step towards citizenship. Two passport style photos are required to be submitted along with supporting documents when filing Form N-400 with the USCIS. Once the application for Naturalization is filed, the actual timing taken by the USCIS to process the application varies from person to person, anywhere between six months to a year, sometimes more.
Any mistakes on the form can lead to considerable delay, so it is important to fill the application as accurately as possible. We are happy to help applicants who require any help with the process of filling the Form N-400.
Receipt of Application ( 2 to 3 weeks after filing Form N-400):
USCIS will mail you a letter that confirms receipt of your application once your Application for Naturalization, Form N-400 is filed properly. This receipt letter is called as Notice of Action and is formally called Form I-797C will reach you in 14 days once your application is filed properly. The 10 digit receipt number on the Form I-797C can be used to track the status of your application anytime.
Biometrics Appointment Notice (3 to 5 weeks after filing Form N-400):
You will next receive a notice from the USCIS with a biometrics appointment, specifying date, time and location of the appointment with a local USCIS Application Support Center located near you. All applicants are required to be fingerprinted, for security clearance and background check.
Biometrics Appointment ( 5 to 8 weeks after filing Form N-400):
It is an important part of the process where USCIS collects your fingerprints, photographs and your digital signature. You will need to take a photo identification card with you to the biometrics appointment, the notice you received will tell you what documents you need to carry.
Naturalization Interview Appointment Notice (3 to 5 months after filing Form N-400):
After you successfully complete the biometrics appointment, you will next receive a notice from USCIS for your Naturalization Interview and test. The time taken by USCIS to schedule this interview depends on your location and where you have filed for citizenship.
Citizenship Interview and Test ( 4 to 6 months after filing Form N-400):
The Naturalization interview will include the following tests:
Speaking - A USCIS officer will determine whether you can understand their questions in English, and whether you are able to answer them.
Reading - You may also be asked to read a few sentences aloud for the USCIS officer to determine if you can read English.
Writing - You will also be asked to write down sentences to determine your ability to write in English.
Civics - Out of 100 possible questions, you will be asked 10 questions by the USCIS officer. You need to get at least 6 right answers to pass.
At the end of the test, you will be given a notice of decision by the USCIS officer. There are three possible options:
Granted: If your application and immigration history look good and you did well in the interview, the USCIS may decide to approve your Application for Naturalization, Form N-400 and will schedule you for a Naturalization Oath Ceremony within a few weeks.
Continued: If USCIS determines that they need more information to process your application, or if you fail to provide all the correct, required documents, or if you have failed your civics test the first time, they may reschedule another interview for a later date.
Denied: If the USCIS officer determines that you don’t meet the conditions for Naturalization, you will be given a Notice of Intent to Deny. If your case is continued, it may also be mailed to you.
Oath of Allegiance to the United States (5 to 8 months after filing Form N-400):
USCIS will schedule you for an Oath Ceremony once your application is approved. Notice of Naturalization Oath Ceremony, Form N-445 will be mailed to you by the USCIS. You have to complete the questions on the Form N-445 and take it with you to the Oath Ceremony on the scheduled date and location. At the ceremony premises, a USCIS officer will review the answers and will collect your Green Card.
You will become a U.S citizen once you take the Oath of Allegiance. After taking the oath, you will receive the Certificate of Naturalization.