Steps To Get American Citizenship

Written by J. Hirby and Fact Checked by The Law Dictionary Staff  

Applying for U.S. citizenship may be a lengthy process, but it is a worthwhile endeavor considering the benefits that citizenship can bring. American citizens have the right to vote, to bring family members over from foreign nations and may have access to a greater number of job opportunities. Understanding the steps to become an American citizen is a vital part of beginning the naturalization process.

Determine Eligibility

Applicants for citizenship must be able to prove that they have been living in the U.S. on a continuous basis for several years. They also are required to demonstrate a knowledge of American history and the system of government as well as being able to understand English. Citizenship also requires that the applicant be of good moral character and hold a positive view of the U.S. Moreover, applicants must be willing to defend the country and the Constitution.

Fill Out an Application

Form N-400 may be obtained from the website of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services at http://www.uscis.gov/citizenship/learners/apply-citizenship. The form is lengthy, and some of the answers you provide may require you to fill out additional forms. On the form you’ll disclose information about yourself and your residence as well as about your family. After completion it will be mailed to the USCIS for processing. Enclose two passport-style photos, a photocopy of your Permanent Resident Card and a check for the applicable fees.

Wait for Appointment Letters

The USCIS will send an appointment letter informing the applicant about where and when they will be fingerprinted. After being fingerprinted, you wait for the USCIS to send another appointment letter, this time for your interview.

The Interview

Appearing at the interview is frequently the most stressful part of the process. Be sure to bring all of the required documents to make it easier. A state issued ID and a Permanent Resident Card are required. An official will ask you questions about the information in your application and about your background. Then you take exams that test your knowledge of the English language and basic civics.

Receive a Decision

USCIS will send you a Form N-652 after reaching a decision. If you are denied, then you must begin the application process again. If you are approved, you will be given a date, time and place where you will take the Oath of Allegiance to the United States. The Certificate of Naturalization is presented after the ceremony.

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