Naturalization unlocks citizenship rights for millions of American immigrants. While strict standards apply, the rewards of U.S. citizenship are worth the wait. Once naturalized, foreign-born Americans can participate in politics, work without restrictions, and enjoy other rights of natural-born citizens. Without doubt, naturalization is a hope for countless immigrants across America. But how, exactly, can a person achieve it? This article reviews the basics of naturalized citizenship, as well as the requirements you must meet to become eligible.
Firstly, if you are considering applying for naturalization, talk with a qualified immigration lawyer. The process can certainly be daunting – legal representation will provide both expert support and guidance throughout the process. Further, your attorney can help you prepare for potentially stressful parts of the process, like the naturalization interview and citizenship test. Davis & Associates helps immigrants through Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, and Miami – contact us today! In fact, we offer free initial consultations to help you consider your options with confidence.
Again, today’s article reviews the following:
- What is naturalization?
- Where do the requirements for naturalization come from?
- Who is eligible for naturalization?
- What does the naturalization process look like?
- Why should I work with an immigration attorney?
Through naturalization, foreign-born residents of the United States (U.S.) are able to become full-fledged citizens. Naturalized citizens possess all the same rights as U.S. citizens, with one exception – they cannot become president. Considering that very few people have ever held this position, this isn’t too concerning of a difference!
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) further explains that immigrants can become naturalized citizens by meeting all the requirements set forth in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Different people may need to meet varying requirements depending upon their circumstances. For example, those foreign-born individuals married to a U.S. citizen only need to be a permanent resident for three years before seeking naturalization.
Requirements To Become A Naturalized Citizen
There are several requirements to become a naturalized citizen of the U.S. These stipulations are all outlined in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), and are also listed on the USCIS’s website. For your convenience, we’ve listed naturalization requirements below. Again, note that this is a general list – specific eligibility conditions of individuals will vary depending on immigration status and reason.
In general, to be eligible for naturalized citizenship, you must:
- Be at least 18 years of age;
- Be a permanent resident (green card holder) for 5 years;*
- Demonstrate continuous U.S. residence for 5 years at the time of application;
- Prove that you have been physically present for a minimum of 30 months (out of 5 years) at the time of application;
- Prove at least 3 months of residence in your state or district of application;**
- Possess upstanding moral character;
- Respect and adhere to the U.S. Constitution’s “principles and ideals”;
- Read, write, and speak English at a satisfactory level;
- Understand U.S. history and civics at a basic level; and
- Be willing to swear an oath of allegiance to the United States.
*Those foreign nationals married to U.S. citizens only need to hold a green card for three years before becoming eligible for naturalization.
**Students can apply for naturalization either in their home state or where they attend school, if these differ. Students must still depend on their parents for financial support to apply in their home state.
The U.S. Citizenship Application Process
When you are ready and eligible for naturalized citizenship, congratulations! American citizenship confers a large number of benefits and rights. You begin your application with the USCIS by submitting Form N-400, Application for Naturalization.
After submitting Form N-400, there are several other steps, including the naturalization interview and citizenship test. You may also need to attend a biometrics appointment if the USCIS requests. After processing your application, the USCIS will contact you to schedule a time for an interview. When you interview, you will also take your naturalization test. After passing your interview and test, you’ll wait to hear if the USCIS approved your application. At that time, you’ll be required to take one final step – swear an oath of allegiance to the United States of America.
During your citizenship interview, the official talking with you will ask you personal questions. They will likely request detailed information about your background and application. Your interviewer will be looking for any inconsistencies with your application or reasons you may not be eligible. The USCIS provides a video that explains the interview and test process.
There are two main parts of the U.S. citizenship test. First, eligible candidates must demonstrate satisfactory skill with the English language – writing, speaking, and reading are all assessed. Second, applicants must take the civics portion of the exam. This will include questions about U.S. history, the government, and the Constitution. You can learn more about the entire test via the USCIS.
Ready To Become An American Citizen?
If you are ready to embark on the journey to naturalization, Davis & Associates is prepared to help! The path to American citizenship is certainly rewarding, but it can also be stressful. In fact, there are many requirements and steps that may cause confusion or frustration. Forms and paperwork must be completed without error and submitted correctly.
When such an important aspect of your future is at stake, don’t leave it to chance! Work with an expert immigration attorney – they are trained to guide you seamlessly through the naturalization process. In fact, a qualified attorney will help you every step of the way.
Davis & Associates provides free initial consultations to all clients. No matter your question or concern – sit down with one of our lawyers. Through your discussion, you’ll learn available options from a true expert. Contact us today!
For those curious about naturalized citizenship, there are a number of resources to read and study in order to understand the process in greater depth. Davis & Associates has published a number of articles on the topic, which are linked below. We have also linked general resources at the USCIS for your reference.