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10 steps to naturalization: how to become a US citizen

US citizenship gives you rights and privileges. These include the right to vote, the ability to travel with a US passport and bring relatives to the United States, grant citizenship to their overseas child and receive government benefits. Miami Herald.

Photo: Shutterstock

Since citizenship applications currently take up to two years to process, it is important that eligible immigrants file petitions as soon as they meet all the requirements, immigration advocates say.

The process often requires the assistance of an immigration attorney, but some legal permanent residents try to obtain US citizenship through naturalization on their own.

The recently redesigned United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website contains numerous resources designed to assist foreign nationals in the naturalization process.

The Immigration Agency highlights the following 10 steps to naturalization:

US citizenship through parents

According to USCIS, “there are two main ways get citizenship through parents, US citizens: at birth and under 18 ”.

Have the right to it:

  • children of US citizens living in the US;
  • children of US citizens living outside the US;
  • immigrants eligible for US citizenship.

Immigrant Eligibility for U.S. Citizenship

Sometimes immigrants make mistakes when they apply for naturalization but do not qualify, which include the following:

  • at the time of application submission, the applicant must be at least 18 years old;
  • he must reside in the United States as a permanent law resident for 5 consecutive years, or 3 if received a green card through spouse, US citizen;
  • proof of physical presence in the United States for at least 30 months in the last 5 years, or 18 months if married to an American citizen;
  • show good moral character. This means no criminal record for the previous 5 years and the absence of the fact of providing false information in the framework of any immigration form or procedure (in addition, a person who has committed a serious criminal offense is not eligible for naturalization);
  • be able to read, write, and speak basic English, and demonstrate knowledge of US history and government;
  • be ready to support and defend the United States and the US Constitution.

Filling out an application for naturalization

Form N-400 Is a request form used by lawful permanent residents to apply for citizenship by naturalization.

It must be completed legibly, in black ink, and all questions must be fully and accurately answered. Avoid gross mistakes that immigrants make, such as crossing out or writing outside the space provided. And do not forget to include the A Number of the applicant in the upper right corner of each page.

Here is a link to USCIS Instruction to apply for naturalization.

Form N-400

Immigrants can create online account to submit Form N-400 electronically, which allows applicants track status immigration application, receive notifications and updates, and view estimated completion dates.

On the subject: List of Documents, Strange Questions, and Personal Impressions: An Immigrant's Tale of the US Naturalization Process

Biometric services

After the application is submitted, USCIS will schedule an appointment for biometric services - you will need to remove your fingerprints, take a photo and sign. Subsequently, the information is sent to law enforcement agencies to check for the commission of criminal offenses and other important factors affecting security.

Local procedure USCIS Application Support Center usually takes 15 to 20 minutes. It is important to be on time because there are new restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Applicants must bring with them:

  • appointment notification, Form I-797C;
  • valid photo ID (passport, green card or driver's license);
  • any other documents specifically requested in the notification. USCIS also recommends printing a copy of the completed application.

Interview with an official USCIS representative

This is perhaps the most dangerous part of the naturalization process: interview and test.

Immigrants must prove that they can read, write and speak English, and have the necessary knowledge of the history and government of the United States. The USCIS interviewer will ask the candidate questions about his application and history questions in English.

Immigrants must take with them:

  • appointment notification;
  • permanent resident card (green card);
  • any state-issued IDs, passports and travel documents;
  • confirmation of current civil status, decisions on divorce and name change.

On the subject: Check yourself: can you pass the test for US citizenship

USCIS decision

USCIS will send a notice of its decision to applicants. There are three possible scenarios: approval, follow-up (that is, the candidate will have to provide additional evidence or documents) and refusal - most likely based on disqualification.

Immigrants whose cases are rejected may request a hearing from an immigration officer.

Naturalization Ceremony Notice

If USCIS approves the application, the applicant, according to the agency's website, may participate in naturalization ceremonies on the day of the interview.

If not, the immigration authorities will send the petitioner a Notice of the Naturalization Oath Ceremony (Form N-445) with the date, time and place.

Taking the oath

Adoption oath of allegiance during the naturalization ceremony - an unforgettable moment. But due to the pandemic, ceremonies are now limited to only the naturalization participant (no guests) and people who provide assistance to candidates with disabilities.

Immigrants first give their green cards, then swear loyalty to the Constitution, and then receive naturalization certificates, which are official proof of US citizenship. The authorities recommend that new citizens receive, among other things, US passports through the United States Bureau of Consular Affairs.

Before leaving the ceremony, authorities suggest checking the certificate and notifying USCIS staff if it contains errors.

Thereafter, new citizens are encouraged to register as voters and update their social security records.

What does it mean to be an American citizen

Naturalized citizens are an important part of the social structure of a nation. Citizenship has its advantages and requires an equally important moral commitment, USCIS stresses.

Benefits and Obligations:

  • the right to US public protection;
  • voting right;
  • the right to work;
  • the right to reside permanently in the United States;
  • a commitment to comply with all federal, state and local laws;
  • obligation to report income to the IRS;
  • the obligation to enroll in the selective military service system for men between the ages of 18 and 25.

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