U.S. Naturalization Process Explained

A person can become a citizen of the United States by birth and if they are not eligible to become U.S. citizens by birth then they need to go through the legal citizenship process called naturalization, to obtain U.S. citizenship. Naturalization is the way through which immigrants can become citizens of the United States.

The naturalization process does not only stop with filing applications there are 6 steps in the American citizenship process. The following will help you to understand the overall process and to become a U.S. citizen.

A variety of requirements must be met in order to become a citizen of the United States. Generally, U.S. citizens can live in the United States forever and they will never be deported. U.S. citizenship comes with several privileges and duties. Any foreign national can apply for U.S. citizenship and become a U.S. citizen but several U.S. citizenship requirements must be met by the applicants.

Step 1: Determine Eligibility for U.S. Citizenship

Only permanent residents can apply for naturalization. To file an application for naturalization, you need to be a Green Card holder. If you are a Green Card holder, see that you meet the following requirements prior to filing your U.S. citizenship application.

18 or Older Requirement: You must not be a minor and at the time of filing Form N-400, you must be above age 18. 

Good Moral Character RequirementThis is one of the most important requirements as you will never be permitted to become a U.S. citizen if you are a criminal. You must not have falsely claimed U.S. citizenship and you must not have been criminally convicted. You must be a law-abiding person and must not be a member of any criminal organization. 

Continuous Residence Requirement: You must have maintained a residence in America for a certain period of time. If you are the spouse of a U.S. citizen, at the time of applying for U.S. citizenship, you will have to establish that you have been living in America for the past three years.

If you are not the spouse of a U.S. citizen, you will have to prove that you have been living in America for the past five years. If you had remained in a foreign country for more than 6 months within the past three or five years, you cannot apply for U.S. citizenship. That is because a trip outside the country for longer than 6 months will break the continuous residency requirement. 

Physical Presence Requirement: If you are the spouse of a U.S. citizen and if you are applying for citizenship after three years of permanent residency, to qualify, you must have spent at least 18 months in America. Similarly, if you are applying for U.S. citizenship, five years after becoming a permanent resident, you must establish that you have spent 30 consecutive months in America. If you hold a Green Card and if you are in the U.S. Armed Forces, you can apply for citizenship, after 1 year of service and you need not meet the physical presence requirement. 

Residence Requirement: You must have resided in the American state in which you are applying for U.S. citizenship, for a minimum of three months. However, this requirement does not apply to the members of the U.S. Armed Forces. 

Step 2: Collect the Required Supporting Documents

Once you make sure that you are eligible, you must start collecting the required supporting documents and these documents will help you to establish that you are eligible for citizenship. All the applicants must submit photocopies of their permanent resident cards and two identical color photographs.

If you are applying on the basis of marriage to a U.S. citizen, you need to submit a document to establish that your spouse is a U.S. citizen, such as your spouse’s birth certificate, Certificate of Naturalization, Certificate of Citizenship, or your spouse’s U.S. passport. Along with that, you must submit copies of your marriage certificate, tax returns, birth certificates of children, bank accounts, leases, certified copies of the income tax forms, and IRS tax return transcripts. 

If you have ever been arrested, a certified copy of the complete arrest record must be submitted. Apart from the above, you may also be required to submit a few other documents particular to your situation. 

Step 3: File Form N-400

To begin the naturalization process, you must complete and file Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, in accordance with the form filing instructions. You need to check whether you meet all the eligibility requirements, prior to filing your U.S. citizenship application and this form must accompany the above-mentioned supporting documents.

You can complete this form online using our online software and mail the completed form to the USCIS. $680 is the Form N-400 filing fee and this fee must be sent along with your naturalization application. In case, your supporting documents are not in English, you must submit certified translations. 

Step 4: Attend Your Biometrics Appointment

After you mail your completed Form N-400, to the USCIS, the USCIS, after reviewing your petition will send you an application receipt notice. Followed by that, you will be sent a biometrics appointment notice to be fingerprinted. You must not miss this appointment and only after you submit biometrics information, you will be called for the naturalization interview. 

Step 5: Attend Your Naturalization Interview

Your ability to speak English and your knowledge of U.S. history will be tested during the citizenship test. A variety of study materials are available and you can use those materials to prepare for this test. You need to prove that you are good at English and you must pass the civics test by answering 6 out of ten questions correctly. Only if you get through, you will be able to move to the next step. 

Step 6: Pledge the Oath of Allegiance

This is the final step and the USCIS will either approve or deny your U.S. citizenship application, based on the information that you have provided. If your petition is approved, you will be notified about your naturalization oath ceremony and you will have to take the Oath of Allegiance to America, in that formal ceremony. You will become a citizen of the United States as soon as you take the Oath and soon after you take the Oath of Allegiance, you will be granted a Certificate of Naturalization.

This is the naturalization process to become a U.S. citizen. You can use our online software to complete your citizenship application and submit it successfully to the USCIS.