They’re many ways to become a US citizen. However, the most suitable way for immigrants is through naturalization. Therefore, on this page, we’ll be focusing on the naturalization process of becoming a US citizen.
Recall that they’re different pathways you can migrate to the US. We’ll center this discussion more on naturalization and how to become a US citizen.
What is Naturalization?
Naturalization is simply a way or a term that refers to when an immigrant of the US becomes a citizen of the country. Not all immigrants are eligible to become citizens by naturalization. The application is restricted to immigrants who have green cards (permanent residents). Such persons must have held the card for 3–5 years or must’ve met various military service requirements to be considered.
Are you interested in becoming a citizen of the US? Do not worry. Just go through the content. We’ll provide you with detailed information about the requirements for becoming one.
What are the requirements for Naturalization?
- You must be at least 18 years old at the time of the application
- You must’ve applied and gotten a green card for up to 5 years
- You must have stayed in the US continuously for at least 5 years before the time of the application
- You must’ve at least good English language proficiency. You should be able to read, write and speak basic communication in the English language
- You must understand the US history and how the government works
- You must show evidence that you’ll respect the US Constitution
- You must be a person of good character. You must not have had a serious criminal record in the past.
- You’re required to live for at least 30 months in the US. This should be from the five years you apply and obtain the green card
All applicants will be screened and accessed by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). You must possess all the requirements mentioned above before you apply for a US citizenship. If you do not have any of the aforementioned and you proceed to apply, you’ll be denied.
How to Apply for US Citizenship
Applying for a US citizen isn’t a herculean task. It is a gradual process that you’ve to follow. You do not need to subject yourself to unnecessary pressure during the process.
You have to bear in mind that you do not need to apply again if you’re a citizen. If you’re born in the US, or you’re born abroad by a US parent, you automatically become a US citizen. If you’re a child of US parents, you just have to fill out the form N-600 or N-600K for application of citizenship.
As stated earlier, they’re a series of phases you’ve to follow if you are applying for US citizenship. The processes cannot be skipped, they are;
Fill out form N-400 and submit the complete application
The N-400 form is the first stage of the application. You’ve to download the form and enter all the necessary information. You can download the form on the USCIS website. If you’re living outside the US, make sure you attach two passport photographs.
You have to review the form to ensure everything is in order. Often, you may be required to add other supporting documents like a medical certificate, and other documents. There’s payment for the application. Make sure you do all the necessary payments and keep your receipts. You also need to have a copy of the application form to present during your interview. All the processes if skipped, or done wrongly may slow down your application. Be strict and prudent while entering the information.
You also need to pass through this stage during your application. Biometrics is very important because it reveals much important information about you. You’ll be asked to schedule an appointment by the USCIS. There, your fingerprints and photographs will be taken.
After you’ve submitted your form and made all the payments. The biometric will follow, then the interview. This interview does not require you to undergo a thorough assessment. The interview is one of the most important parts of the application. Make sure you do not miss it because there’s no way you’ll proceed without doing it.
It will require you to answer a few questions about your background. You’ll also take your English exam on this day. They’re two types of tests that you’ll take. Firstly, you’ll take an English language proficiency test which includes reading, speaking, and writing. The official will write three sentences for you to read. You’ll also be asked to write three sentence words as well.
The second test is the civic test. This one isn’t as easy as the English language proficiency test. This test is on the history and values of the US. The official in charge will ask you 10 questions. You must have at least 6 answers correctly before you’ll be eligible to proceed.
If you fail any of the tests, you’ll be required to take that part only. However, it’ll take another 2 to 3 months before you can take it again. All these processes are done one after the other. Having problems with one will automatically slow down your application time.
Receive the decision of USCIS
You’ll know your fate during the decision of the USCIS. What you’ve to understand is that there’s no way you’ll be denied citizenship if you meet all the requirements and have scaled through all the processes.
After the application is processed and the interview is done, the USCIS will send you a notice of approval or rejection.
If you’re rejected, the reasons will be stated on the notice. You can appeal if you think there’s an error or you’re not satisfied with some of the reasons. To file for an appeal, you need to apply for Form N-336. Make sure you do that within the first 30 days of rejection or otherwise you’ll not be allowed to do that again.
Take the Oath of Allegiance
You cannot become a citizen of the US if you’ve not taken the oath of allegiance. You can take the Oath after completing your interview, or otherwise, you may have to schedule an interview for the day you’ll come to take it. The oath is usually scheduled by the USCIS as a ceremony. You should attend it on the day that’s scheduled by the USCIS or you have to fill out form N-445, Notice of Naturalization Oath Ceremony.
The oath can only be taken by a judge in the court. After all the processes, you’ll automatically become a US citizen. Your certificate of naturalization will be offered to you, and you’ll be asked to return your green card.
What are the rights and benefits of being a U.S. citizen?
After the procedure and series of steps, you’ve finally become a citizen of the US, congratulations! The next thing you’ve to keep in mind is knowing your rights and privileges.
There’s so much freedom you can enjoy as a citizen of the US. you’ve to keep in mind that the moment you become a citizen of the US, you’re not different from other citizens. You’ll enjoy every benefit like others. The following are the basic rights and benefits;
- Freedom of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”
- Freedom to reside and work in the US
- Right fo to express yourself and your faith
- Freedom to vote in elections for public officials
- The right to a fair trial by jury
- Right to vote for federal office.
The following are your responsibilities as a citizen of the US;
- You must support and defend the constitution of the country
- You must respect others’ faith, belief, and individuality
- You must respect and obey federal and state laws. You must be ready to bear the penalty if you break the law
- Pay your tax with honesty and punctuality
- You must be willing to serve on a jury when you’re summoned to
- Join the military and defend your country if you need to.
How Long Does it Take to Become a US Citizen?
Since they’re a series of steps you’ve to follow before you become a citizen of the US, you can’t apply and have it in a day. If there are no drawbacks, the process will take as much as 6 months to complete.
You’ve to be prudent while you’re in the process. A single mistake may take you months before you rectify it.
How Much Does it Cost to Become a US Citizen?
They’re two fees you’ll be required to pay while you’re applying for US citizenship. You’ve to pay for the citizenship application which will cost about $640. The second fee is the biometric fee which will cost the sum of $85. In total, you’ll end up spending the sum of $725 if you want to apply for US citizenship.
Military personnel are exempted from making these payments. Other sets of people that are payment exempted are government-supporting agents and old people. If you’re older than 85, you’re not required to pay the biometric fees.