How to Become a U.S. Citizen

Finding out how to become a U.S. citizen can seem like an overwhelming task. To apply for American citizenship, one must first apply for naturalization. This process involves completing Form N-400 and filing it with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Before applying, it is important for an applicant to make sure that he or she meets all eligibility requirements. There are also, however, some exceptions and accommodations that may be made depending on an applicant’s special circumstances.

Requirements for Naturalization

All the following general requirements must be met to become a U.S. citizen through Naturalization:

  • You are at least 18 years of age at the time of filing (except active-duty
    members of the U.S. armed forces)
  • You are a permanent resident of the U.S. for a required period of time
  • You have lived within the state or USCIS district where you can claim
    residence for at least 3 months prior to filing the application
  • You have demonstrated physical presence within the U.S. for a required
    period of time
  • You have demonstrated continuous residence for a required period of
    time
  • You can demonstrate good moral character
  • You can demonstrate an attachment to the principles and ideals of the U.S.
    Constitution
  • You possess the ability to read, write and speak basic English
  • You possess a general understanding of U.S. history and government (civic
    knowledge)
  • You take an oath of allegiance to the United States of America

One may also qualify for naturalization through other paths if he/she does not qualify through meeting the above requirements. For instance, an individual may already be a U.S. citizen if their biological or adoptive parents were naturalized before the individual reached 18 years of age.

The Naturalization Test

An individual who wishes to become a U.S. citizen must take an English and civics test to fulfill one of the requirements for becoming fully naturalized. Those who qualify for an exemption are not required to take the test.

Oral Test

A United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officer will determine the quality of an applicant’s spoken English during their eligibility interview from the naturalization application Form N-400.

Reading Test

An applicant must correctly read aloud one of three English sentences to demonstrate their ability to read and understand English. The USCIS compiles a list of common reading test vocabulary words to help applicants study for the reading portion of the naturalization test.

Writing Test

An applicant must correctly write one of three English sentences to demonstrate their abilities to write in English. The USCIS compiles a list of vocabulary words to help applicants study for the written portion of the naturalization test.

Civics Test

The naturalization test contains 100 civics questions. During a naturalization interview, the applicant is asked a maximum of 10 questions out of a list of 100 questions. The applicant must correctly answer 6 out of the 10 question set to pass the civics portion of the test.

To prepare for the Civics or English test, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services offers free online study materials here:

Dual Citizenship

Dual citizenship, or dual nationality, occurs when a person is simultaneously a national of two different countries. In the United States, those eligible for dual nationality are not required to choose one nationality over another. A United States citizen is also allowed to naturalize in another country without giving up their U.S. citizenship. Dual citizens owe civic allegiance to both countries in which they are a national, and are therefore required to abide by the laws of both countries.

Attending Naturalization Ceremony

If your Application for Naturalization is approved, a naturalization ceremony will be scheduled for you, where you will pledge the Oath of Allegiance, the final step in becoming an official United States citizen. You will be required to attend either a judicial ceremony, in which the oath is administered by the court or an administrative ceremony, where a USCIS officer will administer the oath.

Benefits of U.S. Citizenship

  • Secure the right to vote
  • Reunite family in the U.S.
  • Obtain citizenship for children born abroad
  • Ability to travel without restriction across U.S. borders
  • Collect U.S. federal benefits
  • Gain federal employment
  • Gain elected representation in U.S. government

Get Legal Help on Your Path to Citizenship

The naturalization process can take some time and be tricky, especially to someone who doesn’t have a firm grasp of the English language or U.S. immigration law. If you are interested in applying for U.S. citizenship and want to explore your options, contact Johnson & Masumi P.C. online or by phone for an initial consultation with our immigration attorneys. They have the necessary experience to guide you through the process of obtaining full U.S. citizenship.

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