Becoming a US citizen, you will have an unparalleled opportunity to broaden your horizons and pursue the American Dream. After becoming a legal permanent resident in the country, you will be eligible for becoming a ”naturalized US citizen” if you are able to fulfill all the eligibility criteria and requirements stated by the Congress in the INA (Immigration and Nationality Act).
Who is Eligible to Apply for Citizenship?
You can apply for your naturalization/ citizenship if you are a legal permanent resident in the US, have a green card for a minimum of 5 years, are married to a US citizen (and have a green card for at least 3 years), have served for the US military for an year or are a widow or widower of US citizen who died during their service in the US army.
Before becoming a US citizen, the naturalization process requires the applicant to meet all the necessary requirements. The type of requirements can be subject to change, at the discretion of the USCIS, depending applicant’s situation. However, mentioned below is a general list of typical requirements needed to file for your naturalization:
- You have to file your (Application for Naturalization), which is the N-400 Form – (minimum age requirement of applicant is 18 years).
- You must be a green card holder for a minimum of 5 years.
- You must prove to the USCIS that you have lived in the particular state you are applying for your naturalization from for at least 3 months.
- Prove or demonstrate that you have continuously lived in the US for 5 years right after you file your Application for Naturalization.
- Immediately after you file your N-400 Form, you will need to demonstrate that, at minimum, you have lived in the US for 30 months in the 5 years you have had your green card.
- You must demonstrate your proficiency in speaking, reading and writing English.
- You must demonstrate a basic understanding of the history of the US – as well as some knowledge of US civics.
- Display that you have good morals.
- Take an oath of allegiance to the United States
The Naturalization Process
Step 1: Application for Naturalization
The first step in the process to become a US citizen is to correctly file your Application for Naturalization, which is the N-400 Form. This is a federal form issued by the USCIS for green card holders.
Step 2: Go to the Biometrics Appointment
For processing your application for naturalization, the USCIS will perform a thorough background check for criminal activity against the FBI’s criminal databases. To do that, you will be provided with a date and time for a biometric appointment. The USCIS will enter your fingerprints in the database to screen for any criminal activity.
Step 3: Attend the Interview
There is no specified time to when you are going to have your biometric results, but it usually takes a couple of weeks. After that, you are going to be called in for an interview with a USCIS officer at a set date. You will be sent the address. The interview will comprise of questions pertaining to your N-400 Form. There will also be a test to gauge your proficiency in the English language as well as your knowledge about US civics.
Step 4: Take the exam
As one of the steps to become US citizen, eligible applicants for naturalization will be required to undertake a two-part test. The first part of the test is for demonstrating your abilities to read, write and speak English.
Step 5: Receive a decision from USCIS
Should your N-400 application be approved by the USCIS officer, it will be routed through a series of internal procedures. After that, you will be required to attend the ceremony for naturalization.
Step 6: Take the Oath of Allegiance to the U.S.
If the USCIS officer approves your application after the interview or several days or weeks after the interview – it is great news! However, understand that you are still not a naturalized US citizen yet. It will be mandatory for you to attend an Oath of Allegiance to the US ceremony where you are going to swear your loyalty to the US in front of a large gathering of the public. Soon after, you will be handed over your Certificate of Naturalization.
Step 7: Attend the Naturalization Ceremony
After you arrive at the Oath of Allegiance ceremony, it is vital to check in with a USCIS officer. The officer will go over your N-445 Form (Notice of Naturalization Oath Ceremony) to check your responses. It is important to complete all the responses to the questionnaire before you come to the ceremony.
How to Best Prepare for the Exam
One of the steps to become a US citizen is to pass the interview examination. The exam consists of two major components. The first part will comprise of three different segments – which include English speaking, writing and reading. Bear in mind that the USCIS officer will start to gauge your speaking skills and comprehension right after you enter the office. He will ask you a series of mundane and trivial questions. So stay calm and focused.
He will also ask questions pertaining to your N-400 application, so be sure to go over all the answers and responses you have provided in the form. You will also be required to read and write a few sentences in English, which is simple, but it helps to be prepared.
For Civics Test
The USCIS will provide a complete list of questions (100) in total; these are just sample questions as nobody knows what is going to come in the exam. You will be required to answer 6 out 10 correctly to pass this part of the exam.
What Types of Questions are Asked at the Interview?
The US citizenship process also requires truthfully answering all the questions asked by the USCIS officer after the exam is over. While there are several questions asked, each can be different or related to any aspect of your application, your background, your life, etc. Here some sample questions:
- Have you ever or are currently using different names?
- What is your age and where were you born?
- Who are you currently living with?
- Where are you currently living?
- Are you a member of any organization, group, club?
- Your details on whether or not you have been to different trips outside of the US.
Interview Preparation Tips
Be Sure to Thoroughly Review Your Naturalization Application
This is important because the USCIS officer will ask you questions about the responses you have included in your N-400 Form. So be prepared.
Your Documentation Must be Up to Date
If during the naturalization process, there are details (like a change in address or marital status), it is absolutely essential that you inform the USCIS officer and update it in your documentation.
Prepare for the Test
There are several resources provided by the USCIS for preparing for the naturalization exam. Take full advantage of them.
Look and Act Professional
First impressions are last impressions, so wear a formal dress or a suit and tie for the interview.
Come to the Interview on Time
The USCIS officer will be expecting you 30 minutes before the interview, make sure you are ready and able, and take into account traffic and other delays.
Benefits of Becoming a U.S. Citizen
After you become a naturalized US citizen, there are several benefits that you can enjoy. You no longer have to keep renewing your green card. It will become far easier for you to travel outside of the US and then re-enter the country. Moreover, if you have children that are green card holders, you will be making it easier for them to become US citizens in the future.
In addition, it will be much simpler for you to petition for your close relatives and family members to become green card holders. Above all, becoming a US citizen will grant you eligibility for state and federal benefits as well as employee benefits.
Contact Attorney Eric Price Today!
Knowing how to apply for a US citizenship is one thing, preparing all the documentation and filing all the correct forms adequately is another. There are bound to be a dizzying array of questions that you might not know how to answer, which is why it is always helps to have someone who has your back.
Eric Price has empowered hundreds of families, meticulously helping them navigate the process of US naturalization, swiftly, reliably and confidently. Known as a ‘green card lawyer’, Eric and his team of immigration experts are regarded as some of the best lawyers across the US.