Each year, more and more people from around the world are immigrating to the United States. However, for many of these people it is difficult to figure out how to apply for United States citizenship. The process can be extremely time consuming and labor intensive. If the correct steps are not taken, it can be difficult to ever become a citizen. This article will help you understand how to apply for United States citizenship and what the requirements are to become a US citizen.
The two main aspects of applying for United States citizenship that you need to be aware of are the eligibility requirements and the actual citizenship application.
United States Citizenship Eligibility Requirements
First, a person who wishes to become a US citizen must meet the citizenship eligibility requirements. Before you find out more about how to apply for United States citizenship, make sure you meet each of the following criteria:
- You have lived in the United States as a lawful permanent resident for at least five years (with exceptions for refugees, people who get a green card through asylum, spouses of U.S. citizens, and U.S. military personnel)
- You have been physically present in the United States for at least half of the last five years
- You have lived in the district or state where you are filing your application for at least three months
- You have not spent more than a year outside the United States
- You have not made your primary home in another country
- You are at least 18 years old
- You have good moral character
- You are able to speak, read, and write in English
- You are able to pass a test covering U.S. history and government (based on questions provided by USCIS)
- You are willing to swear that you believe in the principles of the U.S. Constitution and will be loyal to the United States
As long as you meet all of these requirements for United States citizenship, you should be able to move forward with the process. It can be helpful to consult an immigration lawyer if you are unsure whether you meet the citizenship requirements, or if you have questions about the process.
United States Citizenship Application
The citizenship application process can be broken down into a few steps. Each one is laid out and explained below.
Submit the United States Citizenship Application – USCIS Form N-400
The actual application process is pretty straightforward. Start by reading and completing USCIS Form N-400. You will send USCIS Form N-400, along with the citizenship application fee, photos (as specified on the application), and a copy of your green card to the proper USCIS office (if you don’t have a green card, you need to get one first – go here to find out how to get a green card).
Submit Fingerprints and Complete a Citizenship Interview
From there, you will be contacted to complete your fingerprinting. Once the citizenship fingerprinting has been completed, you will have an interview. The interview is a key part of the process. You should spend a significant amount of time preparing for your citizenship interview. You may consider finding an immigration lawyer to help prepare you for this process.
For people under the age of 50, the interview will test your grasp of the English language. Everyone will also be tested on their knowledge of US government and history. If you need accommodations during the process, be sure to communicate this before the day of your interview. It is really important that you are prepared and that you show up on time for your interview appointment. Doing well in the interview will improve your chances of having your application approved to become a United States citizen.
Citizenship Swearing In Ceremony
If you do a great job in the interview, the next step is to show up for your swearing in ceremony. You will be contacted with the date and time. At the ceremony, you will get a naturalization certification. This document means you’re an official US citizen!
It is helpful to learn about how to apply for United States citizenship early on, before you even begin the process. If you choose to apply for United States citizenship, your entire immigration history will be scrutinized carefully. So make sure you are behaving properly and according to all the immigration laws at all times.
Also, be honest and thorough with your application. If you don’t tell the truth, you are taking a risk of never becoming a citizen. If you are unsure where to begin, consider hiring an immigration lawyer. A lawyer can advise you through the process and help you make sure each step is taken properly. Working with a lawyer will give you the best chance at success on your path to becoming an official United States citizen.