The last step in most people’s journey through immigration in the United States is Naturalization. This is when a person takes upon themselves the principles of the U.S. government, and is accepted as a full member of our society, being able to utilize all the benefits of the United States. The process for citizenship starts with submitting form N-400 and concludes with a swearing in ceremony before a federal judge.
There are generally eight requirements a person must satisfy to be eligible to apply for naturalization and become a citizen of the United States.
- Be at least 18 years old.
- Be a lawful permanent resident of the United States.
- Have resided continuously in the United States for the previous 5 years before applying (3 years if married to a U.S. Citizen).
- Have been physically present in the United for at least half the time necessary to show continuous residency (2.5 years in general, 1.5 years if married to a U.S. citizen).
- Have resided for the preceding three months before application in the jurisdiction of the office that will adjudicate the case.
- Must demonstrate good moral character for five years prior to filing for naturalization (3 years if married to a U.S. citizen).
- Must be attached to the principles of the U.S. constitution and be willing to pledge allegiance to its cause.
- Must be able to read, write, and speak English, and have knowledge of U.S. history and government.
Each of these requirements have their own subset of requirements that can make the process of applying for citizenship very complicated. For example, if you are a permanent resident but spent more then 6 months outside the U.S. during the statutory period leading up to your naturalization you may not be able to show continuous residency.
To satisfy the requirements of showing the proper knowledge of the English language and U.S. history and government, the applicant is subject to a test. This is a test given in person during an interview before a USCIS officer. During this test the officer will ask you to speak English, will speak English to you, will ask you to read and write certain words in English, and then will ask you 10 civic questions. Proper preparation is necessary for many people to satisfy this requirement and can be the most daunting part the application.
Please contact us if you have any questions regarding immigration and naturalization.