A lot of people from different parts of the world have this American dream – to live with freedom and liberty. One way to fully acquire citizenship in the hailed land of the free is to get naturalized.
What is Naturalization?
Naturalization is the procedure by which a foreign national can become a citizen of the US. To be eligible, you can either be a permanent resident with a green card or in the military. Before you can get a green card, you would need to ensure that you’re clear of any health condition that may be a public health concern.
What is the wait time to become a US citizen?
The waiting time for American citizenship, from filing to the oath-taking ceremony, usually takes 12 to 24 months but can go longer than expected. The process can be nerve-racking and rigorous but definitely worth the wait.
What is the cost of applying for naturalization?
As of December 2021, the filing fee for a naturalization application is $725. This is already inclusive of the biometrics and processing fees. If you’re part of the military, your application fee will be waived.
If you’re wondering if you’re eligible to apply for US citizenship, consider the following factors:
- Length of time you’ve had your green card
- Length of time you’ve been living in the US
- If you’ve served in the US military, consider if it was during a period of hostilities (war) or not
What is needed for naturalization?
The requirements to continue with the naturalization process are the following:
- Must be at least 18 years old when you submit your application
- Have been a lawful permanent resident for the last three or five years
- Maintained a permanent physical residence in the United States
- Must be skilled in basic reading, writing, and speaking of the English language
- Have high-level moral integrity
- Have a broad knowledge of American history and government
- Have been demonstrating loyalty to the foundational ideas of the United States
- Ready to take the Oath of Allegiance
US citizenship application process
Step 1: Application for Naturalization
First thing to do is to file an Application for Naturalization by filling up the form N-400 and paying for the fees. You can either send the application through mail or apply online. Remember, if you’re a military based abroad, you cannot file your application online. Instead, you need to mail it straight to the USCIS office.
There’s a 90-day early-filing rule. You can submit your Application for Naturalization 90 days before completing a three or five-year green card residency. As long as you’re eligible for this application, the 90-day early filing is appropriate for you.
Step 2: Biometrics appointment
After filing your Form N-400, the next step is to book your biometrics appointment at any USCIS office. This process of getting and recording your fingerprints is necessary for archival purposes.
Step 3: Citizenship interview and exam
The naturalization interview is typically booked 14 months after the application is submitted. However, the length of time it takes to complete your naturalization application is highly dependent on the USCIS field office that handles your case.
In this step, the USCIS official will check to make sure that all of the information on your naturalization application is correct. The interview is normally held at the USCIS location closest to you. If you’re applying from outside the United States, you’ll be interviewed in a US embassy or consulate. Your interview may be held in a military location if you’re on inactive military duty.
In the exam, a USCIS officer will give you a two-part naturalization test composed of an English language test and a civics test. These exams will test your ability to speak and write in American English. Also, it’ll assess your knowledge of basic US information and history.
These examinations are pretty straightforward, and USCIS provides study resources to assist you in your preparation.
A USCIS official will approve your application if you pass the interview and exam. They may request further paperwork or arrange for a second interview, if necessary.
If you don’t pass, the USCIS will issue you a refusal letter with an explanation, but you have 30 days to appeal or reapply.
Step 4: Oath of allegiance
After your application has been granted, you’ll be required to take the Oath of Allegiance. It’s critical that you finish this step. You cannot become a citizen of the United States unless you have taken this oath. This oath includes the following responsibilities:
- Devote allegiance to the US
- Give up any loyalty to other nations or sovereignty
- Support and defend the US constitution and laws
- Serve the country when necessary
Following your citizenship approval, you’ll get a notice in the mail with the ceremony’s date, time, and place, which is usually a local courthouse or USCIS office. The length of time it takes to schedule the ceremony varies depending on the state.
When you check in, you’ll be requested to return your green card. After the ceremony, you’ll be given a Certificate of Naturalization and may begin your new life as a citizen of the United States!
Benefits of US citizens
Once you acquire your Certificate of Naturalization, you’ll be able to take advantage of a variety of privileges that you couldn’t get as a green card holder. Here are some of the benefits you can finally enjoy:
- Voting in federal elections
- Petitioning to bring family members to the US
- Children of US citizens are automatically US citizens as long as they’re born in the US
- US passport and assistance from the US government when out of the country
- Eligibility to work in US government agencies
- Eligibility to become an elected official
- The right to show your patriotism
When you decide to become a US citizen, you should be willing to follow the right process and undergo the interview and exam required. You must honor and respect the freedom and privileges given to you as a naturalized citizen. Also, you must be an active participant in your community. In doing these things and fulfilling what you have sworn to do for the country, you can proudly say that you’re a true American citizen.
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