Applying For Naturalization: Understanding The Process

If you have been a permanent resident in the United States for several years, you might now be excited at the prospect of applying to become a fully naturalized citizen. Some people can feel daunted when they approach yet another task with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), but the process does not have to be challenging if you know what to expect. Here's a look at the journey to help you get started. 

1. The application

The first step of applying for naturalization is to fill out the application, which is form N-400. This form has a filing fee of $640, with an additional $85 for biometrics. The form goes over your current information, including your marital status and current address. The form will also address your criminal history and your traveling information, so it's important to make sure you have access to the dates you left and returned to the country in the last five years. 

Some questions on the form can seem confusing, so if you are uncertain about how to answer or fill it out, you should get assistance from an immigration attorney. They know the downfalls and common mistakes people can make when filling out the form. Mistakes can cause the form to be rejected or delayed. Rejected forms do not warrant the return of the filing fee, which means you'd have to pay to apply again. 

2. Biometrics

After your form is received for USCIS, you wait for more instructions. You will get a notice in the mail or electronically on your USCIS account that your application has been accepted and that you've been scheduled for biometrics. You should be on time for your biometrics appointment where you take a fresh photo and provide fingerprints for the database. After biometrics, it's time to prepare for your interview by studying the citizenship questions.  

3. Studying for the test

The questions for citizenship are available online, but you can also get a booklet of the questions at the immigration office you went to for biometrics. There are 100 questions that address Unites States history, government, geography, and politics. There are also questions about the responsibilities of citizens. Because you are hoping to be a citizen, you need to be aware of how your role will change. 

4. The interview

You will receive notice when your interview is scheduled. After biometrics, it can take several months before you get to the interview stage, depending on how busy your local USCIS office is with applications. The interview goes over your application, including your travel and criminal history. The interviewer will also ask questions from the list of 100 that you studied. You can also be tested on how well you read and understand English. After the interview, the officer who has been working with you will recommend you for naturalization. 

5. Naturalization

Your naturalization ceremony usually happens within a couple of months of your interview. You bring your green card with you to turn in, and you receive your naturalization certificate, which you use to apply for a passport and change your social security status. You swear the oath in front of USCIS officials, and then you are a full citizen.

For further details, reach out to an immigration attorney near you.