Here are the stages to getting your naturalization in the U.S.:
1. Check Your Eligibility
There are eligibility requirements for naturalization in the U.S. You should know this first to ensure you don’t waste your precious time and money.
- You must have legal permanent residency for at least five years or three if married to a U.S. citizen.
- You serve in the military or are the child of a U.S. citizen.
- You must have been in the United States for at least half the time of your legal permanent residency. This equals 30 months for permanent residents and 18 months if married to a U.S. citizen.
- When you apply for naturalization, you must be at least 18 years old and show you are a person of good moral character.
- You must be living where you file your citizenship application for at least three months.
Factors that can help your application include paying taxes, maintaining a property you own or rent, and continued employment.
2. File Your N-400 Application
The first thing in the application is filing Form N-400 with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). You can also complete the N-400 application online. Based on military service, applicants applying abroad must mail in paper applications.
The USCIS website guides where to mail your application – click on “Where to File” on the N-400 landing page. There, you will see a checklist of required documents to prove your eligibility for naturalization.
3. Go to Your Biometrics Appointment
Once received, you will get an appointment notice (via mail) with a date for your fingerprinting and biometrics. The message usually arrives 2-3 weeks after filing, with another 1-2 weeks out with an appointment date. Take notice of your appointment and keep it for your record. It will be stamped after you have done the fingerprinting.
4. Attend Your USCIS Interview
- Interview: After the fingerprinting, you will receive an interview date anywhere from 10-14 months. Dress neatly and be on time. And most importantly, do not be nervous.
- Naturalization Exam: This comprises the English language and Civics test. You will be asked ten civics questions, of which you have to answer at least six correctly.
If you pass, the officer will approve your application. If denied, you will receive a letter on why it is so. Common reasons applicants are denied are failing the civics / English test or failure to pay taxes.
5. Be Sworn in
Once approved, the next thing is to be sworn in at a naturalization ceremony. Then, you will receive an appointment notice with the details of your ceremony. Now you will take an Oath of Allegiance.
The oath ceremony is usually a phenomenal and memorable one, so enjoy the experience. At the end of the swearing-in, you will get your naturalization certificate. You can now apply for a U.S. passport, one of the significant perks of U.S. citizenship!
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