Naturalization is the process by which a legal permanent resident of the United States can become a citizen of this country. The process of naturalization can be lengthy and sometimes complex because of the numerous criteria that need to be met by the applicant to qualify for the citizenship. Here are a few things you need to know about the process:
Permanent Residence: You must be a permanent resident of the U.S for 5 continuous years, 3 years if you are married to a U.S citizen. The number of years of permanent residence varies if you are a refugee, asylee or if you are in the military service or a veteran.
Good Moral Character: You must demonstrate good moral character to the USCIS.
Knowledge of U.S history and Civics: You must have some basic knowledge about the country’s history and the Government. You also need to understand and communicate in basic English to help you survive in the United States.
Applying for Citizenship
If you satisfy the above the above requirements, you can go ahead and apply for the U.S Citizenship with the USCIS. You must complete Form N-400, Application for Naturalization. You must fill in the form completely and truthfully for your application to be accepted. After filling the Form N-400, you can print the form and sign in the required space.
Documents to include with your application form:
Photocopy of both sides of your Green card (Permanent Resident Card)
Two identical passport-style recent photographs with your name and A-number written at the back.
Check/Money Order for the Application Filing fees.
Always make copies of every document you send to the USCIS.
Mail your application
USCIS will not accept citizenship applications in person at the USCIS office. You need to mail your application by U.S Postal Service or a private mail company (FedEX, DHL). Always use a mail service with a return receipt. You must mail your application packet to the USCIS lockbox that serves your area.
Receive a receipt
Once your application is successfully accepted by the USCIS, you will receive a receipt by mail which contains your receipt number. You can use this number anytime to check the status of your application online. You should receive the receipt between one and two months of mailing your application to the USCIS. If you haven’t received the receipt, you can contact the USCIS office.
After you receive your receipt, you will next receive a letter from the USCIS informing you about the date and time of your biometrics appointment. Be on time for this appointment which will usually be at your local USCIS office. You will be fingerprinted during the schedule. You must carry your Green card, your letter from the USCIS office and an additional form of identification with a photograph (Driver’s License, Passport).
Once your fingerprints are verified and cleared by the USCIS, you will receive the date and time of your interview. This is the most important part of the citizenship process, so prepare well for the test. Read your application form so you remember what you wrote. You will be asked questions about yourself and it’s best to answer the USCIS officer truthfully. You will also be asked 10 questions about U.S history and Civics out of which you will have to get 6 right answers to pass the test. During the interview, the USCIS officer will also test your English language. Fluency in English is not needed, but you need to have basic conversation English.
After the citizenship interview, you will receive your decision. Your citizenship application may be approved, continued or delayed and you will be informed of the same while you are still in the USCIS office.
Oath of Allegiance
At a naturalization ceremony, you will take the Oath of Allegiance to the United States and become a U.S citizen. The naturalization ceremony can take place on the same day of the interview in some places. If scheduled for a later date, you will receive a letter from the USCIS informing you of the date, time and venue of the Naturalization Ceremony.