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U.S. Naturalization Process – A Brief Overview

U.S. Naturalization Process – A Brief Overview
Marc Karlin

Naturalization is the process a foreign citizen must go through to be granted U.S. citizenship. The legal process of naturalization has several steps. A person must initially complete an application, then they will be interviewed and given a test. If everything goes well, they will then be required to take an oath of allegiance before becoming a U.S. citizen.

The criteria to become naturalized is strict. This is so that only people who genuinely want to become U.S. citizens and can demonstrate their desire to do so are granted naturalization.

Eligibility Criteria

A person must meet specific criteria before they can even apply to become a U.S. citizen. To be eligible, a person must be:

  • Over eighteen years of age
  • A lawful permanent resident of the United States for a minimum of five years
  • Able to demonstrate continuous residence in the United States for a minimum of five years prior to the date the application is submitted (or three years if eligible to apply as the spouse of a U.S. citizen)
  • Able to speak and understand English well
  • Of a good moral character

Completing a Naturalization Eligibility Worksheet available through USCIS (the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services) can help individuals determine whether or not they are eligible to apply. However, hiring an experienced lawyer is most beneficial as they will be able to explain the process in greater detail. There may be exceptions to some of the criteria rules such as “time spent away,” which could mean a person who thought they were not eligible may still be able to apply.

Submitting an Application

The naturalization application must be completed and submitted correctly for consideration. There are several forms to finish before the application process is complete. An experienced immigration attorney can help you gather and fill out those forms.

The stages of the application process include:

  • Completing the Form N-400, Application for Naturalization
  • Including two recent photographs of yourself – the photos must meet the stated requirements
  • Gathering the required documents
  • Submitting the application and documents along with the filing fees to the correct Service Center

Taking Fingerprints

Should the application be accepted, one of the next parts of the naturalization process includes having your fingerprints taken. A person will receive a letter from the USCIS with their appointment time to get this done.

The Interview and Test

The next step for those applying for naturalization is the interview and test. This is the part where many people feel most anxious. The interview is to ensure that a person genuinely desires to become a U.S. citizen and to check how well a person speaks and understands the English language. The civics test includes 100 questions of which an applicant will be asked 10. These questions are based on U.S. history and government and are asked to determine how much an individual knows about the country. An applicant must get 6 out of 10 questions correct to pass.

If an applicant is successful, the individual will be asked to take the oath of allegiance. A person will receive a ceremony date at which they will return their Permanent Resident Card and take the oath.

A person wishing to become a U.S. citizen must go through the naturalization process. Having a thorough understanding of this process and preparing accordingly is vital in order to be successful, and hiring an experienced immigration attorney can make all the difference and ensure that you follow all the necessary steps to be accepted.

If you are hoping to apply for naturalization, talk to the friendly, professional team at Karlin & Karlin. We can guide you through each step of the process and help you file all the necessary paperwork. Get in touch today at 213-348-7281 to see how we can assist you.

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