Naturalization is a process by which an individual who was not born in the U.S. chooses to become a U.S. citizen. That individual is granted citizenship once he or she fulfills all the mandates required by Congress in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Having completed all requirements, said person is recognized as an official American citizen.
Applying for U.S. Citizenship
If one wishes to apply for American citizenship, they must complete Form N-400 and file it with the USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services). Green Card holders (lawful permanent residents) whose Green Card has been valid for the entire 5-year permanent residency period that is required before applying for U.S. citizenship may apply. If you are married to a U.S. citizen, you may apply after 3 years of possessing a valid Green Card. An applicant who has served in the U.S. military during conflict can become a U.S. citizen without having to establish permanent residency prior to filing their application. Form N-400 must be filed with supporting documentation and photos. The applicant must then take the naturalization test to determine whether they can read, write and speak English, as well as ensure that he or she has a basic U.S. civic knowledge.
Eligibility For Naturalization
All the following general requirements must be met to become a U.S. citizen:
- 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 demonstrate strong moral character
- You 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. 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 if they are given a waiver.
A USCIS officer will determine the quality of an applicant’s spoken english during their eligibility interview from the naturalization application Form N-400.
An applicant must correctly read aloud one of three English sentences to demonstrate their abilities 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.
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
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.
Benefits Of Becoming a U.S. Citizen
- 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
Consulting With An Immigration Attorney
The naturalization process can take some time and be tricky, especially to someone who doesn’t have a firm grasp of either English or U.S. immigration law. If you are interested in applying for U.S. citizenship and want to find out all the information that will help you 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 of managing a wide variety of immigration and naturalization applications and can guide you through the entire process towards obtaining full U.S. citizenship.