Individuals who don’t acquire U.S. citizenship through birthright can become citizens through the naturalization process. However, they must demonstrate that they meet the requirements and that they have the right attributes to qualify for citizenship.
The process of applying for naturalization can be challenging and frustrating at times. An experienced citizenship lawyer at American DreamTM Law Office, PLLC can help prevent mistakes that could cause your application to be delayed or denied.
Who is Eligible for Naturalization?
To become a U.S. citizen through naturalization, the applicant must be:
- At least 18 years old
- A lawful permanent resident (green card holder) for at least five years (three in certain situations)
- A continuous resident of the United States (the required period varies according to circumstances)
- Able to demonstrate good moral character
- Able to understand and speak basic English
- Familiar with U.S. history and government
- Prepared to swear allegiance to the United States
An immigration lawyer could assist in determining whether you meet the requirements, help document your qualifications, and assist with preparation for exams and interviews.
How Do You Apply for Citizenship?
In most cases, a green card holder files Form N-400, the Application for Naturalization with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Applicants may file online or submit paper forms through the mail. The agency will be scanning forms submitted in print format, so it is important to print answers in blank ink within the lines on the form. When applicants submit forms with corrections or without a signature, those forms will be rejected.
In addition to the application form, the submission should include appropriate payment, several additional forms, and supporting documentation as required by the agency. It is a good idea to consult agency requirements closely or work with an experienced immigration attorney when preparing to submit the application materials.
What Happens Next in the Naturalization Process?
After USCIS receives an application, the agency will send a notice confirming receipt. The next step in the process for most applicants is a biometric appointment where USCIS will collect fingerprints and other identifying information.
Once all information has been approved, USCIS will schedule an interview and naturalization test. During the interview, applicants should be prepared to answer questions about their background and the information on their application. They will be tested on their ability to speak, read, and write basic English. Additionally, they will be tested on American government and history. The civics portion of the exam is usually conducted orally.
After all requirements are met USCIS has approved the application, the agency will send a notice scheduling a time and place for taking the oath of allegiance. The process can take as little as 12-18 months if all documents are submitted correctly and supported with appropriate evidence.
An Experienced Immigration Attorney Can Help with Your Citizenship Application
U.S. immigration law is complicated, and requirements can seem overwhelming. Knowing that a mistake could result in a delay or denial of your application makes the process even more problematic.Many naturalization applicants find it helpful to work with an experienced immigration lawyer during the application process. If you would like assistance with a naturalization application or want to investigate or take legal action to combat excessive delays, contact the dedicated team at American DreamTM Law Office, PLLC to schedule a consultation.