naturalization process

Naturalization is the process by which a foreign citizen or national permanently becomes a US citizen. The naturalization process allows someone to gain the rights and privileges that come with being a U.S. citizen, including the right to vote and hold public office. The process typically takes 6-12 months but can vary depending on each applicant’s situation.

Eligibility for Naturalization

To be eligible for naturalization, an applicant must meet certain requirements set forth by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The main requirements are that the applicant must:

– Be at least 18 years old
– Have continuous permanent resident status for 5 years (or 3 years if married to a U.S. citizen)
– Demonstrate good moral character
– Pass civics and English tests
– Take an oath of allegiance

Once someone determines they are eligible, they can begin the naturalization application process.

The Naturalization Application Process

The naturalization application involves paperwork, biometrics, an interview, and taking the Oath of Allegiance. Here are the main steps:

– Submit Application Form N-400 – This comprehensive form collects information about the applicant’s background, residences, employment, and more. Applicants must sign the form under penalty of perjury.

– Get Fingerprinted – After USCIS accepts the N-400, applicants get fingerprinted at a designated facility. This allows the FBI to generate a background check.

– Complete the Interview – In most cases, applicants will be scheduled for an interview with a USCIS officer. The officer confirms information on the N-400 and tests the applicant’s English and civics knowledge.

– Take the Oath – The final step is to attend a public naturalization ceremony and take the Oath of Allegiance. This makes everything official.

Some applicants may also have to provide additional documentation, take medical exams, or require name changes along the way. USCIS provides instructions for special circumstances.

Civics and English Testing

A key part of the naturalization process is passing both the civics and English tests.

The civics test covers important U.S. history and government topics. There are 100 potential questions and applicants will be asked 10 questions during their interview. They must correctly answer 6 out of 10.

The English test involves reading, writing, and speaking sections. Applicants must demonstrate sufficient ability to read, write, and speak basic English. Those over 50 years old who have lived in the U.S. for 20+ years qualify for exemptions.

Naturalization Fees

There are various fees required during the naturalization process, including:

– N-400 Application Fee – $725
– Biometric Fee – $85
– Interview Fee – $700

Lower fees or fee waivers are available for applicants who meet income requirements. USCIS has a fee calculator tool online.

After Naturalization

Gaining U.S. citizenship is a meaningful milestone that provides many new benefits and opportunities. However, even after naturalization, citizens must continue meeting residency and other requirements to maintain their status.

New citizens should register to vote, update Social Security and other IDs, and protect their naturalization certificate which serves as proof of citizenship. Naturalized citizens enjoy almost all the same rights as U.S. born citizens.

The naturalization process allows dedicated immigrants to officially join American society. While it takes time and effort, millions have felt it worthwhile to become U.S. citizens. Following the process correctly results in officially obtaining this privileged status.


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