You can obtain US citizenship by birth, by parentage or through the legal process called naturalization. People born within America, are US citizens. US citizenship will be automatically conferred upon people who are born on US soil. This also applies to the children born to immigrants, on American soil and to the people born in all US territories.
People born abroad to US citizens, can acquire citizenship from their parents, if they are currently under age 18 and if either one of their parents were US citizens at the time of their birth. This applies to the children of US citizens who were born on foreign soil. Such individuals can apply for and get US citizenship certificates, by submitting proof of their parents’ citizenship status.
If you were not born in America and if your parents are not US citizens, you need to go through the legal process called naturalization, to become a US citizen. The USCIS citizenship process is quite lengthy and you need to understand the process well, prior to applying for US citizenship. There are several steps in the US citizenship process and you cannot skip any step.
US citizenship comes with several rights and at the same time involves a variety of responsibilities. To become a naturalized US citizen, a foreign national must first become a permanent resident. Several rights will be conferred upon individuals who become US citizens and they will be granted the same rights and privileges that are granted to the native Americans. They can get US passports and cast their votes in federal elections.
Submit Form N-400, Application for Naturalization
You can complete Form N-400 online but remember that you cannot file this form online. This form must accompany two passport-sized photos and some supporting documents. Supporting documents must be submitted to establish that you are eligible for US citizenship. All the supporting documents that you submit must be in English. If not, you need to submit translated copies of those documents. The application package that contains Form N-400 and the supporting documents must be mailed to the right USCIS location and you also need to enclose the proper form filing fee with your application package.
USCIS will send you an application receipt notice soon after the agency accepts your petition. Followed by that, you will receive a letter from the USCIS with information about your fingerprinting appointment. You will have to go to the location specified in the letter at the scheduled time and submit biometrics information. In certain circumstances, USCIS will require additional supporting documents and if you are required to provide them, you need to submit those documents without fail.
You will be called for a personal interview and this may happen in around 6 months from the date of filing your US citizenship application. After you file Form N-400, you must start preparing for your US citizenship interview. You will have to go to the interview location that is specified in the interview appointment letter on the scheduled date. If you believe that you may not be able to make it to the interview, you will have to contact the USCIS and reschedule it. You need to take with you to the interview, the interview appointment letter that you received from the USCIS and other documents. Interview questions will be about your Form N-400 and your background.
You need to take the civics and the English tests and you need to get through these two tests to take the oath of Allegiance. Several resources are available. You can make use of those resources to prepare for the US citizenship test and easily get through both the tests. After you complete the tests, you need to wait for the USCIS to decide on your case.
Take the Oath and Become a US Citizen
If your interview goes well, you will receive a letter from the USCIS with information about the naturalization oath ceremony. You need to make it to the location specified in the letter at the scheduled time. You will be required to turn in your permanent resident card during the naturalization ceremony, as the permanent residents must give up their permanent resident status in order to obtain US citizenship. You must then take the Oath of Allegiance to America. The oath will be read out by an officer and you will have to repeat it. After taking the Oath, you will be granted a naturalization certificate and you can then start living in the United States as a US citizen.
You need to remember that you cannot obtain US citizenship just by filing applications. The US government has set certain requirements and you need to meet all those requirements to become a naturalized US citizen. Moreover, US citizenship applications must be prepared carefully and all possible errors must be avoided. Completing the form online could be the best option as you will be assisted throughout the entire process and the online form guide will help you to prevent mistakes. If you hold a Green Card and if you have been living in America as a permanent resident for more than five years (three in case you are married to a US citizen), you can apply for US citizenship through naturalization and become a proud citizen of America.