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U.S. citizenship

Naturalization is a legal process that allows green card holders to become US citizens.

Some people are eligible to become US citizens after only 3 years of being a green card holder, while others have to wait 5 years.  The waiting period required to start the naturalization period depends on how the applicant received their lawful permanent resident and certain categories are entitled to the privilege of waiting only 3 years.

Eligibility for naturalization is based on the following factors:

  1. Adult age.  A lawful permanent resident must be over 18 years old to apply for naturalization. Minors (applicants under 18) often are eligible to become citizens automatically once at least one parent becomes a naturalized citizen.  They derive their citizenship from the US Citizen parent.
  2. The applicant must be a green card holder (in lawful permanent resident status).
  3. The applicant must wait the required 3 or 5 years to apply, and the waiting period depends on how the applicant acquired green card status.
  4. The continuous physical presence and residency requirement.

Applicants filing after 5 years of having LPR status must have resided in the U.S. for at least 2.5 years (in sum) out of the past 5 years.  For those who are filing for naturalization after 3 years, their physical presence must be at least 1.5 years or more.

All trips outside the US during the required waiting period prior to filing for citizenship must be listed on the N-400, which means you must keep track of all your trips and which countries you will be visiting and how long you stayed outside the US.

  1. The applicant must demonstrate a passing level of knowledge of conversational English and to be able to read and write in English.
  2. Knowledge of American history and civics is also required.
  3. Applicant must demonstrate good moral character and have minimal to none criminal history.
  4. People who were in the Communist or Nazi party are ineligible for naturalization. Also, people who were in any militia or gorilla groups or groups intent on overthrowing the government, or were married to more than one person at the same time (polygamy) are not eligible to become citizens.
  5. Applicant must be prepared to make the oath of allegiance to the United States and be prepared to do civil and combat service on behalf of the U.S. if will be needed.

Naturalization Process

1.Submitting the forms and supporting documents to naturalize:

  • Form N-400 is the form to use to file for Naturalization. Prior to starting the form, please be prepared to list all your addresses, jobs, and places of work for the past 5 years, have the biographical information for yourself and your current and past spouses, know the dates of all their trips during the required 5 years or 3 years waiting period (including the countries travelled and the dates of departure and return), and answer many national security and eligibility questions.
  • Men who are of the age for selective service in the US Army or other US military branches must be registered for selective service. Men can register at
  • People who have children they are not living with must have proof that they are paying child support as required.
  • The applicants must have certificates of disposition for any arrests and have a judgment or disposition if there was a conviction. Some crimes make people not just ineligible for US Citizenship, but even for continuing to hold a green card.
  • For people with disabilities, you can request an accommodation or submit a medical disability waiver on form N-648 with supporting documents from your doctor if you wish to be able to not do the English, history and civics exam portion of the naturalization process.
  • Any trip you took outside of US that lasted longer than 6 months interrupted your physical presence requirement and the count-down of the 2.5 years of physical presence restarted from the time you returned to US.  There are limited exceptions when the extended absence was out of your control (sudden illness of you or a family member abroad) and you continued to maintain US residency.
  • You must not owe any taxes and you had to file tax returns every year you were required to pay taxes.
  •  You never voted in any federal elections where only US citizens can vote and you never falsely stated you are already a US citizen anywhere.

2. Biometrics

  • Once USCIS receives your N-400 with supporting documents, they will send you a Notice of Receipt with the assigned USCIS receipt number.
  • The next step is the scheduling of your Biometrics appointment where USCIS will take a photo of you and collect your fingerprints and basic information. It is important to have a photo Identification for the Biometrics appointment, which can include your unexpired Green Card.

3. Naturalization interview

  • After USCIS processes your N-400, biometrics and sends your case to your local field office for interviewing, your local field USCIS office will schedule you for an interview for naturalization.
  • At your naturalization interview, the USCIS officer will review all your original documents, ask you the questions from your N-400 form, review all your information, give you the civics and history exam (you must answer 6 out of the 10 questions correctly), test your reading and writing in English, and make you swear that all the information is true and correct.
  • If you answered everything correctly, you will receive a letter stating you are recommended to be approved for US naturalization and later will receive an invitation letter to the Oath Ceremony.
  • If you made many mistakes or there were issues during your interview, the officer will give you another chance and schedule you for a follow-up interview or appointment to bring any additional documents or to take the civics/history exam or repeat the reading and writing parts.
  • You will receive your new Naturalization Certificate at the time of your oath ceremony.

Derivative and automatic u.s.citizenship

Minors under 18 years of age who have Lawful Permanent Resident status (are green card holders) and who have one or two parents who naturalized become US citizens automatically by operation of law.  These children and their parents must file Form N-600 with USCIS and may apply for and receive a US Passport directly.

Form N-600 may also be used by children born outside of the US claiming US citizenship at birth through US parents or grandparents or adopted children of US citizens.

Stages of naturalization:

  • First of all, an application needs to submit to USCIS a N-400 form and add photo, a green card copy and a check of payment of the fee.
  • Then USCIS will check the criminal history of the applicant.
  • After that, they will  invite to the immigration service for an interview.
  • If everything goes well, the applicant will attend a naturalization ceremony. There the applicant will take the oath of allegiance to the United States.

For successful naturalization you need a lawyer if you are:

  • Immigrant who has long-lived outside the United States;
  • The applicant who has violated the laws of America;
  • Person who has tax and financial problems;
  • If there is a suspicion of sham marriage.

Three more ways to become a US citizen:

  • Marriage to a citizen of America;
  • Service in the US military;
  • A child can become a native American citizen, and it is never too late to claim the right to do so.

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