By Dona Maria Avanzado June 20th, 2010
Applying for US citizenship is one of the most important decisions you will make in your life. Once you decide to become a US citizen, you will be taking part in the nation’s future and history. You will also be taking on the rights, privileges, and obligations of US citizenship. If the decision to become a US citizen is a daunting one, many US citizen applicants soon find that the US citizenship application process itself is just as daunting, if not more so. Here is what you need to know in order to apply:
1) The US citizenship application.
There are several paths to citizenship and different US citizenship applications. For example, if one or more of your parents were US citizens, you can (and should) apply for US citizenship through your parents’ status. If you are part of the US armed forces, you may apply for US citizenship using the regular application along with a special military application. If you are eligible for US citizenship and have a green card showing permanent residency of the US, you may complete the USCIS Application for Naturalization (Form N-400) to apply for citizenship. Depending on your current citizenship, you may even apply for dual citizenship, which will allow you to retain some of the current citizenship privileges you have in your home country. Before you apply for US citizenship, you should carefully consider your eligibility and how you will apply for citizenship.
Access the N-400, Application for Naturalization here.
2) You will need to apply.
In order to apply for US citizenship, you will need to find the right forms for you and you will need to complete the forms accurately and fully. Even small mistakes can mean that your application will be rejected, so you need to work methodically and carefully. Luckily, the USCIS provides plenty of information about the application on their website. USCIS includes details application instructions, application checklists, and guides to the US citizenship application process. It is best to download and print all the forms and publications that pertain directly to you right from the USCIS website. This way, you will have the most complete and most up-to-date information. Keep all your application information and forms in one folder or space so that you can stay organized. Read all the instructions and information you have before attempting to fill out the forms, so that you understand the application thoroughly. Many applicants find it useful to fill out a “rough draft” of the form in pencil first before completing the form officially. This allows them to check their work and make sure that they can complete the form accurately and fully.
3) You will need to pass the naturalization test in most cases.
Many applicants who apply for citizenship through naturalization worry about the naturalization test. Once you have completed your US citizenship application form and have had your fingerprints taken for the application, you will be given a date and location for your naturalization interview. During this interview, you will need to prove (through a naturalization test) that you are fluent in English and understand the basics of U.S. history and government. If you have not lived in the US long, you may worry about your language skills and your knowledge of US civics, but there are many ways to prepare.
The USCIS portal for the naturalization test includes study materials, study tips, and more information. This is an excellent place to start practicing for your test. It is best to start practicing for your test before you even apply for US citizenship. That way, by the time your test is scheduled, you will have been practicing for some time and will be prepared and confident. Even if your naturalization test is scheduled very soon after your application, you will be ready if you start studying early.