Naturalization: Your Path to U.S. Citizenship
Are you ready to take the leap and become a U.S. citizen? Naturalization is the process through which eligible lawful permanent residents can obtain U.S. citizenship. This comprehensive guide will walk you through the forms, fees, requirements, naturalization interview, civics test, English test, waivers, and the benefits of hiring an attorney for assistance. By understanding each aspect of the naturalization process, you’ll be better prepared to achieve your goal of becoming a proud U.S. citizen.
Forms and Fees
To start your naturalization journey, you must complete and file Form N-400, Application for Naturalization with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The form is available for download on the USCIS website.
As of September 2021, the filing fee for Form N-400 is $725, which includes a $640 application fee and an $85 biometrics fee. Fee waivers or reductions may be available for applicants who meet specific income requirements or face financial hardship. To request a fee waiver, you must file Form I-912, Request for Fee Waiver, along with your Form N-400.
Requirements for Naturalization
Before filing your application, you must ensure that you meet the following requirements for naturalization:
- Age: You must be at least 18 years old.
- Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) status: You must be a green card holder.
- Continuous Residence: You must have continuously resided in the U.S. as an LPR for at least five years (three years if married to a U.S. citizen) immediately preceding your application.
- Physical Presence: You must have been physically present in the U.S. for at least 30 months (18 months if married to a U.S. citizen) out of the five years (three years if married to a U.S. citizen) immediately preceding your application.
- Residence in the USCIS District or State: You must have lived in the USCIS district or state where you are filing your application for at least three months.
- Good Moral Character: You must demonstrate good moral character during the required continuous residence period.
- English Language Proficiency: You must be able to read, write, and speak basic English.
- U.S. History and Government Knowledge: You must pass a civics test demonstrating your knowledge of U.S. history and government.
- Oath of Allegiance: You must be willing to take an Oath of Allegiance to the United States.
After submitting your N-400 application, USCIS will schedule an appointment for your naturalization interview. During the interview, a USCIS officer will review your application, verify your eligibility, and test your English language proficiency and knowledge of U.S. history and government.
The civics test is a crucial part of the naturalization interview. The test consists of 10 questions randomly selected from a list of 100 possible questions about U.S. history and government. To pass the test, you must answer at least six questions correctly. The USCIS website provides study materials and practice tests to help you prepare for the civics test.
The English test consists of three parts: reading, writing, and speaking. The USCIS officer will assess your English proficiency during the naturalization interview. You must demonstrate the ability to read and write simple sentences in English and be able to understand and respond to the officer’s questions.
In certain situations, applicants may be eligible for waivers from the English and/or civics tests:
- Age and Long-Term Residency: Applicants aged 50 or older with at least 20 years of LPR status or applicants aged 55 or older with at least 15 years of LPR status are exempt from the English test but must take the civics test in their native language.
- Medical Disability: Applicants with a medical disability that prevents them from learning English or U.S. history and government may request a waiver by filing Form N-648, Medical Certification for Disability Exceptions, completed by a licensed medical professional.
Why Hire an Attorney for Assistance
Although the naturalization process may seem straightforward, it can be complex and challenging for some applicants. Hiring an experienced immigration attorney can offer several advantages:
- Application Review: An attorney can review your N-400 application to ensure it is accurate, complete, and free of errors that could lead to delays or denial.
- Eligibility Assessment: An attorney can help determine if you meet all the requirements for naturalization and advise you on any potential obstacles, such as a criminal record or previous immigration issues.
- Preparation for the Interview: An attorney can help you prepare for your naturalization interview by conducting mock interviews and providing guidance on the types of questions you may be asked.
- Assistance with Waivers: If you are eligible for a waiver from the English or civics tests, an attorney can help you gather the necessary documentation and file the appropriate forms to request the waiver.
- Appealing a Denial: In case your naturalization application is denied, an attorney can assist you in filing an appeal or a request for a hearing before an immigration officer.