What are the steps to become a US citizen through naturalization?
You can become a US citizen through the naturalization process and have access to the benefits a US citizenship provides including having a US passport, the right to vote in elections, protection from deportation, US citizenship for your children, eligibility for certain government jobs that are otherwise not open for non-US citizens, access to public benefits and family reunification.
Please note: Due to Coronavirus pandemic, the USCIS is operating at lower capacity and some USCIS offices are closed, slowing down the naturalization process.
In order to obtain the US citizenship through the naturalization process you must follow a number of steps below:
1.Check if you are already a US citizen or you qualify to become a US citizen.
First you should check if you are not already a US citizen by birth or derived US citizenship from your parents after birth. If you are born in the United States then you are a US citizen at birth. If one of your parents is a US citizen by birth or became a US citizen through naturalization before you turned 18 years old, you may already be a US citizen.
2. If you are not already a US citizen then check if you qualify to become a US citizen.
In order to be able to apply for US citizenship, you must have a US green card for at least 5 years. If you are married to a US citizen, the you must have a green card and be a lawful permanent resident for at least 3 years. With few exception, you must be a green card holder before you can apply to become a US citizen. If you have served in the US military for at least 1 year or are the child of a US citizen then you may be eligible for citizenship without first obtaining a green card.
Aside from the green card requirement or qualifying for exceptions, you must also meet some other general naturalization requirements such as US residency requirement, specified physical presence in the United States, good moral character, knowledge of English language and US civics or qualify for an exceptions from any of the requirements.
If you do not meet the criteria to apply for US citizenship, then you can plan ahead the steps you need to take to become eligible to apply for citizenship in the future. Whether this means you need to spend more time in the United States, establish residence, wait until you are 18 years old or you need to improve your good moral character record, there are steps you can plan for and take in order to become a US citizen.
3. Prepare and submit your Application for Naturalization with USCIS and pay your fees.
Please note: Starting October 2, 2020, the applicable USCIS fees for filing the Application for Naturalization will increase to $1,170 from $640, excluding biometrics fee. The biometrics fee will be $30, a decrease from $85.
Before you file the Application for Naturalization, you must collect and prepare the necessary documents to demonstrate to the immigration officer that you meet all the requirements for naturalization.
After you collect the supporting documents, you must download and complete the Application for Naturalization and you must sign it. It is important that you accurately respond to all the questions on the application that are applicable to your circumstance otherwise your naturalization will be delayed.
After you fill out your naturalization application, you must include in support of your application copies of all the documents you plan to use to show you are eligible for US citizenship and the corresponding USCIS filing fee. If you submit documents that are not in English you must also attach a translation prepared by a certified translator.
If you do not live in the United States, you must submit 2 passport-style photographs with your naturalization application.
4. Attend your Biometrics Appointment at a USCIS Application Support Center (ASC).
After you send your naturalization application package to the USCIS and the USCIS receives your Application for Naturalization and accepts it, then you will receive a notice from USCIS with the date, time and location for your biometrics appointment. The USCIS notice will provide additional instructions related to the biometrics appointment. You must bring at your appointment your USCIS notice, your green card and another form of photo ID.
At the biometrics appointment you will be fingerprinted, and your fingerprints will be used to conduct a background check.
5. Attend your Naturalization Interview at a USCIS office and take the English and Civics Test.
Sometime after your biometrics appointment, USCIS will send you a notice for the naturalization interview with the date, time and location where the interview will take place. If you need to reschedule your naturalization interview you can do so. In addition, your immigration attorney can accompany you at the interview.
At the interview you will be asked questions from your Application for Naturalization, your background and whether you are willing to take an oath of allegiance to the United States.
During your naturalization interview with the USCIS officer you will take the English and Civics test.
6. Receive a decision on your Application for Naturalization
After your naturalization interview and English and Civics Test, the USCIS will mail you a notice of decision on your naturalization application.
The USCIS will either grant (approve) your application for citizenship, continue your case if you need to provide additional documents or correct the documents you submitted or failed your English or Civics test, or deny your application if the record does not establish that you are eligible for naturalization. If your application was denied, you can request a hearing with the USCIS.
7. Take an Oath of Allegiance to the United States.
If your application for naturalization is approved, you must take an Oath of Allegiance to the United States at a naturalization ceremony and maintain your eligibility for naturaliztion. After you take the Oath of Allegiance, you will receive a Certificate of Naturalization stating that you are a US citizen. You must also return your permanent resident card (green card) to USCIS.
Once you complete the Oath ceremony you are a US citizen. Congratulations!
How can immigration attorneys at Malescu Law help?
At Malescu Law, our citizenship and naturalization lawyers in Miami, Florida can assist you determine if you are already a US citizen or qualify to become a US citizen, plan steps necessary to take to become a US citizen, strategize your case, collect necessary documents, prepare and file your Application for Naturalization and assist with the other steps in the naturalization process including the naturalization interview. Contact us now!
Malescu Law P.A. – Business & Immigration Lawyers