Citizenship has a number of powerful benefits, from the right to vote to permanent protection from deportation. Many people begin their immigration journey with citizenship as their final goal. With the right knowledge, preparation, and guidance, you can become a citizen through a process called naturalization.
Here are the 5 basic steps to becoming a U.S. citizen.
1. Assess your eligibility.
To qualify for citizenship, you must meet the following requirements:
- You are 18 years or older
- You have been a lawful permanent resident for at least 5 years (or 3 years if your spouse is a U.S. citizen)
- You have lived continuously in the U.S. for the 5 years prior to filing Form N-400, Application for Naturalization
- You have been physically present in the U.S. for at least 30 months of that 5-year period
- You have lived in the state or USCIS district where you are applying for citizenship for the last 3 months
- You have demonstrated good moral character in the years leading up to your application
- You can speak, read, and write basic English
- You have a basic level of knowledge of U.S. civics
Some of these requirements are more straightforward than others, but an experienced attorney can help you understand whether you are qualified (or what to do to become qualified).
2. File your naturalization application.
To officially apply for citizenship, you will use Form N-400, Application for Naturalization. Visit USCIS’s application checklist for a full list of documents you’ll need to include. The fee is $725, which includes the $85 biometrics fee. Once you submit the application, you can check the status at uscis.gov.
Be sure to keep a copy of your form—the adjudicating officer at your interview will ask you questions to verify the information you put on your application.
3. Attend your biometrics appointment.
The biometrics appointment is a criminal background check. You will provide your signature, photograph, and fingerprints.
4. Attend your interview.
Once USCIS has processed your application and determined that you are preliminarily eligible, they will schedule an interview. During your interview, a USCIS officer will ask you questions about your application. They will also conduct an English and U.S. civics assessment, but you may be exempt or entitled to an accommodation due to age, disability, or other circumstances.
The English assessment requires you to correctly read aloud one out of three sentences and write one out of another set of three sentences. The officer will assess your speaking abilities during the course of the interview.
For the civics assessment, the officer will verbally ask you 10 questions out of a 100-question bank, and you must correctly answer 6 out of 10.
Visit here for study materials for each assessment. If you fail one or both assessments, USCIS will schedule a second interview to give you another chance. If you fail a second time, they will deny your application.
The officer may inform you of the results of your application on the day of the interview. In some cases, they may need more time or information to determine whether you can become a citizen.
5. Take the Oath of Allegiance.
Your naturalization process is not complete until you take your Oath of Allegiance to the U.S. at your naturalization ceremony. Once you complete this step, you will receive your Certificate of Naturalization and can enjoy the full benefits of citizenship.
Retain Dedicated Support for Your Naturalization Process
Are you hoping to become a U.S. citizen? Our immigration attorneys at Sintsirmas & Mueller Co. L.P.A. can help you navigate every step of this process. From gathering evidence to helping you prepare for the interview, we can provide the support you need to accomplish your immigration goals.