The Basics of Citizenship and Naturalization in the United States

Many immigrate to the United States with the American dream in mind. The Land of the Free allows them to make a life for themselves. If you’re one of these people, you might be wondering how to get the path to a green card, nationality, and US citizenship.

Naturalization refers to the legal action that a foreign national or citizen undergoes to become a United States citizen. First, the applicant must meet the required criteria before applying for citizenship. Afterward, they must finish the application form, attend the citizenship interview, and pass a civics test and an English test. Once they have completed all these, the applicant takes the oath of allegiance, becoming a citizen of the United States and thereby obtaining the certificate of naturalization.

These citizenship requirements enable the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to make sure that only those who want to become citizens become naturalized. 

In this article, we’ll discuss the basic things you need to know when you apply for citizenship, including eligibility requirements and the steps in the application for citizenship. If you have any more questions, it’s best to talk to an experienced Shenandoah immigration lawyer.  

Eligibility for Naturalization

Citizenship and Naturalization According to USCIS, an immigrant (sometimes referred to as an “alien”) is eligible to be an American citizen if they:

  • Eighteen years of age or older;
  • Have been physically present in the country for at least five years;
  • Have been a lawful permanent resident for at least five years;
  • Can speak, read, and write basic English;
  • Have good moral character.

Some exceptions let an applicant spend time outside the country but still complete the second residency requirement. Our experienced Shenandoah immigration attorney can explain the requirements to you in detail. If you have doubts about whether you’re eligible for becoming a citizen, talk to us first. 

The Road to Become a Citizen

Application Process

You must complete the application process correctly and fill out the paperwork accurately. A mistake can cause your application to be rejected or delayed, or even have you checked for fraud. After you determine your eligibility, you must:

  • Fill out Form N-400, Application for Naturalization;
  • Take two pictures of yourself that comply with USCIS standards; 
  • Obtain the needed documents;
  • Mail the above requirements and the fees.

Note that once you have filed your application, USCIS expects you to stay in the US continuously until your naturalization is complete.

Fingerprinting and Biometrics

A part of the application process is being fingerprinted. This is to prevent any attempt at immigration fraud. The steps for this are as follows:

  • Wait for the appointment letter;
  • Head to the appropriate location to have your fingerprints recorded;
  • Send additional documents, if necessary. 

Naturalization Interview and Citizenship Test

This step is one of the most crucial steps. Plenty of people who apply for naturalization find their journey ended abruptly at this step. Here are the things that happen at this stage: 

  • Wait for your interview appointment;
  • Head for your local office at the date and time specified;
  • Show valid identifying documents/cards;
  • Answer the officer’s questions about your background and application;
  • Answer questions about your application and your background;
  • Take the civics test and the English test.

After this part, you’ll receive a decision on the status of your application.

Pledge your Allegiance

If you’re successful during your interview and test, you can take the final step: the oath of allegiance. For this step of the naturalization application process, you will:

  • Check-in at the ceremony.;
  • Give your Green Card / Permanent Resident Card back;
  • Answer any questions about what you’ve been up to since the completion of the interview;
  • Swear with the Oath of Allegiance.

Final Thoughts

It’s important to thoroughly understand the requirements and forms for a successful naturalization process. An error in your application can cost you your chance of becoming a US citizen. Our Texas Immigration Attorneys At Luis F. Hess, PLLC have years of experience with citizenship applications and ensure you have the best chance at succeeding in your goals. We can solve your family-based, marriage-based, and employment-based immigration cases in Shenandoah and surrounding areas in The Woodlands, TX. 

For any concerns or questions regarding your citizenship application, call our Shenandoah immigration law firm now! We will work with you so you can get that certificate of citizenship.