What is the U.S. Naturalization Process?

Naturalization is the process or legal act by which an individual who was not born in the United States may acquire citizenship. Citizenship is granted once the individual has fulfilled all the mandates required by Congress in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). When all of these requirements are completed, the individual is recognized as an official U.S. citizen. The US naturalization process begins with completing the application, attending an interview, and finally passing an English and civics test. The process can be lengthy and challenging, but it’s designed this way so immigration services can ensure that only individuals who are sincere in their desire to become U.S. citizens are naturalized. Navigating the naturalization process can difficult, so be sure to reach out to an immigration attorney. They can also provide you with more information about the naturalization process and you can schedule a consultation with them on how to apply.

Eligibility Requirements

There are many general requirements that have to be met for you to qualify to become a U.S. citizen. These requirements include being at least 18 years of age at the time of filing (unless you are an active duty member of the U.S. armed forces), are a permanent resident in the U.S. for a required period of time, live in the state or USCIS district where you can claim residence for 3 months prior to filing, demonstrate physical presence within the U.S. for a required period of time, demonstrate continuous residence for a required period of time, prove strong moral character, show an attachment to the principles and ideals of the U.S. Constitution; possess the ability to read, write, and speak basic English, have a general understanding of U.S. history and government, and take an oath of allegiance to the U.S. These are the general requirements that must be met, however, there are other paths you can take to qualify if you don’t meet all of them. For example, if you are the biological or adoptive child of parents who were naturalized before you turned 18 years of age, you may already be a U.S. citizen.

The Application Process

If you wish to apply for American Citizenship you must complete Form N-400 and file it with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). You must have been a valid Green Card holder (lawful permanent resident) for 5 years before applying for citizenship. Green card holders who are married to a U.S. citizen are required to have their Green Card for 3 years. The only way you can become a U.S. citizen without having first established permanent residency is by having served in the U.S. military during a conflict. Following the submission of the application, you will have to take the naturalization test.

The Naturalization Test

Unless you qualify for an exemption and are given a waiver, you must take an English and civics test in order to become a fully naturalized citizen. Within these tests you will have an oral test where you will have to prove to a USCIS officer that you have a basic understanding of the English language and can read, write, and speak it. Next will be a reading test where you will have to correctly read aloud one of three English sentences. There is a list of common reading test vocabulary words provided by USCIS to help you study for this portion of the test. Following this, there is a writing test where you will have to write one of three English sentences. Again, there is a list of vocabulary words to help you study. The final part of the naturalization test is the civics test. There are 100 possible civics questions you could be asked, and your USCIS officer will ask you 10. You must answer 6 out of 10 correctly to pass.

Benefits of Becoming a U.S. Citizen

There are many benefits associated with taking the step from becoming a lawful permanent residence to a fully naturalized U.S. citizen. One of the major benefits is securing the right to vote in all elections. This will allow you to have a say in how the government is being run where you live. Another major reason people choose to go through this process is for parents to obtain citizenship for children who were born abroad. Children who are under the age of 18 will receive citizenship along with their parents when they become naturalized. Becoming a U.S. citizen also allows you the freedom to travel across U.S. borders without travel restrictions. This can be very helpful if you have family members in other countries whom you would like to have the ability to easily visit. New opportunities are also available for naturalized citizens. These include collecting federal benefits, having federal employment, and gaining elected representation in the U.S. government.

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