What Is Naturalization?
Naturalization is the process by which U.S. citizenship is granted to a foreign citizen or national after he or she fulfills the requirements established by Congress in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).
How to Qualify for Naturalization?
To be eligible for naturalization, an applicant must:
- Be 18 or older at the time of filing
- Be a green card holder for at least 5 years (or at least 3 years if applicant is the spouse of a U.S. citizen) immediately preceding the date of filing the Application for Naturalization
- Have lived within the state, or USCIS district with jurisdiction over the applicant’s place of residence, for at least 3 months prior to the date of filing the application. Students may apply for naturalization either where they go to school or where their family lives (if they are still financially dependent on their parents)
- Have continuous residence in the United States as a green card holder for at least 5 years (or at least 3 years if applicant is the spouse of a U.S. citizen) immediately preceding the date of filing the application
- Be physically present in the United States for at least 30 months out of the 5 years (or at least 18 months out of the 3 years if applicant is the spouse of a U.S. citizen) immediately preceding the date of filing the application
- Reside continuously within the United States from the date of application for naturalization up to the time of naturalization
- Be able to read, write, and speak English and have knowledge and an understanding of U.S. history and government (civics).
- Be a person of good moral character, attached to the principles of the Constitution of the United States, and well disposed to the good order and happiness of the United States during all relevant periods under the law
What Is the Naturalization Process?
The process for becoming a citizen are straightforward. If eligible, you and your immigration lawyer would follow the basic process described below:
- Prepare and submit a naturalization application to U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS)
- Appear for an interview with an immigration officer during which you will review your case for citizenship, take a U.S. language and civics test, and be asked to swear allegiance to the U.S.
- Attend a ceremony during which you will again swear allegiance to the U.S. and be formally naturalized.
USCIS takes the language and civics test seriously and applicants must be prepared to pass these important steps in the process. Through careful planning and strategy, applicants can be ready to excel in this important part of the interview process.