10 Steps to Naturalization
Posted by Frank Gogol in Immigrants | Updated on June 15, 2023
Getting naturalized and becoming a U.S. citizen is a dream for many people. Rightly so, because a U.S. citizenship grants new rights and benefits to those lucky enough to obtain it.
In this article, we’ll explain how to get naturalized in 10 steps. If you follow these steps, then U.S. citizenship might not be that far off in the distance.
10 Steps to Naturalization
Step 1: Check Eligibility for U.S. Citizenship
Before you consider getting naturalized, you need to check whether or not you are eligible for the process. The USCIS has set criteria for determining your citizenship eligibility.
If you were born in the U.S. or born abroad to U.S. citizens, then you’re automatically granted U.S. citizenship. If anyone of your parents are U.S. citizens or are naturalized, then you’re required to fill out Form N-600 or Form N-600K, which is the Application for Certificate of Citizenship and the Application for Citizenship and Issuance of Certificate, respectively.
However, if you do not satisfy any of the above conditions and are applying for U.S. citizenship, you need to meet the following requirements:
- You must have a valid green card to prove that you are a lawful permanent resident.
- You’re a spouse of a U.S. citizen for at least three years.
- You have served in the U.S. military.
Click here for a full list of conditions and additional details regarding U.S. citizenship eligibility.
Step 2: Complete Form N-400
After you’ve gone through the eligibility check, go ahead and file Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, provided by the USCIS.
This form will ask you to provide your personal details, past details (both personal and residential), parents, employment (both past and present), education, time spent outside the U.S. while on a green card, marital history, and information about your spouse and children (if any).
Remember to download the most recent and updated copy of Form N-400 from the USCIS website and fill out each and every question that applies to you. Incomplete forms often face delays and rejection.
Follow this link for the form.
Step 3: Obtain Two Photographs
Along with Form N-400, you also need to submit two photographs of yourself. They must be recent (ideally taken within a week’s time frame and no later than 30 days) and should match your current facial characteristics like a haircut, beard, mustache, etc. Your face must be clearly shown in the photo from your chin to the top-of-the-head with no covering on your head (except for religious reasons).
Additionally, these photographs should be passport-sized with the U.S. standard dimension of 2 X 2 inches or 5 X 5 cm. The color scheme can be full color or black and white with a light or white background accompanying the photo.
Step 4: Photocopy Documents
You need to submit multiple documents along with Form N-400. All of them should be photocopies and not originals. Don’t use your original documents since you’ll be sending them via mail because there is a chance they can get lost or destroyed in the process.
You will, however, be asked to bring in your originals with you for verification purposes. The primary documents required are photocopies of your green card (both front and back), passport, visa, birth certificate, etc. If you have documents in any language other than English, you should get them translated first and submit a photocopy.
Step 5: Send Your Application Package
After you’ve filled out Form N-400 and gathered all the documents, it’s time to send them to the USCIS office. When sending, make sure to enter the correct address. Also, you need to send an application fee of around $725, which includes the biometric verification fee. You can create a money order or write a check for this purpose.
Step 6: Get Fingerprinted
USCIS officials will go over your application, submitted documents, and the check you wrote. After everything is in place, and your application has been accepted, you’ll be called in for a biometric verification at a designated USCIS office.
You’ll be asked to provide your fingerprints. These will be used by various U.S. law enforcement agencies to run a criminal background check on you. If they find a major crime, your application will be rejected instantly. If they find a minor crime, your application might get delayed, but chances are you will pass.
You will be asked to bring your original documents along with you to your fingerprinting appointment.
Step 7: Attend Naturalization Interview
After the fingerprint session, an interview will be scheduled with the USCIS, where you will be asked a series of questions. You’ll be notified of the date, place, and time once it’s scheduled. When attending the interview, it is advised to arrive at the designated office 30 minutes in advance.
A part of the interview will feel like the continuation of the fingerprinting session. Interviewers will, for the last time, go over your N-400 form and confirm the answers with you verbally. They will also gauge your character, morals, stance towards U.S. rules and policies, and willingness to take the oath. Answer all questions in a straightforward manner, factually, and in line with the answers you gave in the form.
Step 8: Take English and Civics Test
USCIS officials will check your ability to understand, read, write, and speak English. This doesn’t directly influence the application process but is still crucial for officials. The civics test is more important. You will be asked about U.S. laws and regulations, ranging from paying taxes to driving laws.
Therefore, before attending the interview, it’s important to study by reading a few books on this topic and building your knowledge base of U.S. laws. And that will be the end of the application process.
Step 9: Wait for a Decision
After the interview, the USCIS will make a decision on whether or not to grant citizenship to you based on the information you’ve provided and the questions you’ve answered during the interview. There can be three possibilities.
First, you may get accepted and become a U.S. citizen. Second, your application may get rejected, and you’ll be asked to leave the country after your visa expires. Third, the case may continue, and they’ll ask you for further information or schedule a few more appointments.
Step 10: Take the Oath
If your application is accepted, you’ll be asked to attend an oath ceremony and take the Oath of Allegiance to the United States. After this, you’ll be provided with your Certificate of Naturalization, meaning you’re officially a U.S. citizen.
What Happens Next?
After you’ve been naturalized, it’s important to spend some time understanding U.S. citizenship and the responsibilities that come with it. You should exercise, honor, and respect the U.S. constitution and obey all the laws of the country. You’ll also be awarded the same rights as all U.S. citizens, such as the freedom of speech and the freedom to follow your religion. Please follow this link for more information on U.S. citizenship sessions.
These are the steps you need to take to get naturalized and enjoy all the rights and freedoms of a U.S. citizen. Got any queries? Let us know in the comments below.