Green Card holders in the United States must file Form N-400 if they wish to become US citizens and they need to go through the legal process called naturalization, that involves few steps. Before filing Form N-400, you will have to make sure that you meet all the prerequisites and that you are eligible for US citizenship. You must not be below age 18 and you must have resided in America for 5 long years and if you are married to a US citizen, you must have lived in the country with that US citizen, for three years. If you are eligible, then you may file Form N-400.
The naturalization process does not only involve paperwork but it also involves interviews and citizenship tests and this process is quite lengthy. However, the processing time varies and is not the same for all the applicants.
You may obtain a copy of Form N-400 from the website or you may visit a USCIS office and obtain this form. You may fill out this form by hand or you can also type. You need to mail the completed form along with a few supporting documents and the N-400 filing fee to the USCIS Lockbox facility. After checking your form, USCIS will accept your naturalization application and will send you an application receipt notice within a month.
Following that, you will receive your biometrics appointment notice and the date on which you must appear for biometrics will be printed on the letter. After that, USCIS will decide on your case and if you are eligible for US citizenship, you will be required to report for the naturalization interview.
However, you may not be called for the naturalization interview soon after your biometrics appointment and the interview is likely to be scheduled after three or four months. Meanwhile, you may prepare for the English and the civics tests. Similarly, it is wise to retain a copy of the naturalization application that you had filed as you may be required to answer questions about your naturalization application during your naturalization interview.
You might receive your naturalization interview letter within four months from the date of your application. You need to appear on the scheduled date or you may request the USCIS to reschedule your naturalization interview if you feel that you cannot make it to the interview on the scheduled date.
After your interview, if you pass the citizenship test, you will be notified about the naturalization oath ceremony and you will receive an oath letter. The naturalization oath ceremony is likely to be scheduled one month after your interview. You will be required to turn in your Green Card during the oath ceremony and you will be granted a naturalization certificate after you take the Oath of Allegiance.
In most cases, people who file their naturalization applications will receive their naturalization certificates within six months from the date of their applications. At times you will have to wait for two years to become a US citizen.