10 Things About Becoming A Naturalized Citizen in The United States
Many foreign-born people who have arrived in the United States to be closer to their families, apply their skills and education for more significant work opportunities, or have escaped danger in their home countries, have determined that they would like to remain and eventually become a naturalized citizen of the United States. Many individuals have been granted permanent resident status, while some others are more recent arrivals hoping to scale the ladder to eventually becoming a naturalized citizen.
While becoming a U.S. naturalized citizen takes years from the first arrival, becoming a naturalized citizen is achievable with much diligence and commitment. The process of becoming a naturalized citizen with all the rights and benefits of a natural-born U.S. citizen requires completing an application correctly, accurate documentation, considerable patience, and study.
According to the United States Citizenship and Naturalization Service (USCIS) Fact Sheet, over 7.4 million people were granted naturalized citizenship during the 10 years leading up to 2017. In fiscal year 2018 alone, 756,000 new citizens were sworn in as naturalized citizens, with all the rights and responsibilities granted to native-born U.S. citizens.
Many of those new citizens relied on professional guidance, support, and assistance to achieve full citizenship successfully. Experienced immigration lawyers like Davis & Associates in Dallas understand citizenship law entirely and can make naturalization a smooth and stress-free process.
For many, current attitudes of highly ranked government leaders against immigration, asylum, and deportation seem threatening and cause fear that achieving citizenship may feel like only a dream. However, for those who are already permanent residents and meet all other requirements for citizenship, the threat is minimal, particularly with the proactive assistance of an experienced immigration attorney.
People who have already reached permanent resident or green card status are no longer in danger of deportation unless they have committed a felony or other serious crimes that would jeopardize their residency. However, there are some cases in which people with green cards can have their permanent residency status revoked – and if you have received a notice of removal proceedings from U.S. Customs and Immigration Services, it’s probably a good idea to get in touch with an attorney as soon as you can.
A naturalized citizen of the United States is a foreign-born individual who has met all the requirements of becoming a citizen as established by the Immigration and Naturalization Act (INA) passed by the U.S. Congress. The process for immigrants to become United States citizens is referred to as naturalization.
Once you have been awarded citizenship, you can enjoy all of the rights and benefits of a natural-born U.S. citizen. The rights to vote and receive government benefits as well as the ability to work, own a home, and participate in the political process will become a part of your normal life.
10 Things You Should Know About Becoming A Naturalized Citizen
If you want to become a naturalized citizen of the United States, these are the ten most important things you should know:
- You must meet certain qualifications to become a naturalized citizen.
- You may get special consideration if you served in the U.S. military.
- Spouses of some U.S. citizens and U.S. military personnel are exempt from some requirements.
- Children under the age of 18 may are eligible to become naturalized citizens automatically.
- You must file a Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, to become a naturalized citizen.
- There’s a certain way to file Form N-400 online, and you may want to work with an attorney to do so.
- You can check your case status between the time you apply for naturalization and the time the U.S. government approves your petition.
- You’ll have to attend a USCIS interview and take a citizenship test.
- You’ll attend a naturalization ceremony to make your new citizenship official.
- When you’re a naturalized citizen, you’ll have the same rights and responsibilities that other U.S. citizens have.
Here’s a closer look at each.
(1) Qualifications To Become A Naturalized Citizen Of The United States
In order to begin, the foreign resident needs to initially fulfill specific obligations. A quality naturalization lawyer will help in fulfilling these complicated requirements. Although there are exceptions in specific instances to be mentioned later, the starting qualifications for an individual to become a naturalized United States citizen are that you must:
- Be at least 18 years of age
- Be a lawful permanent resident, which means you have a green card
- Have lived in the United States as a lawful green card holder for at least 5 years
- Have been physically present in the United States for at least 30 months during the 5 years after becoming a legal permanent resident
- Be a person of good moral character with no convictions for charges stemming from immoral actions
- Prove that you can speak, read, and write the English language
- Be able to prove by testing that you have a knowledge of U.S. government, American history and civics
- Be willing to take the Oath of Allegiance to the United States of America
Exceptions to the basic rules for naturalization include honorably discharged, foreign-born members of the United States military, as well as spouses, and children of U.S. citizens and U.S. military personnel.
(2) Non-Citizen Personnel Serving In The United States Military
If you’re serving – or if you have served – in the U.S. military, these points may apply to you:
- Foreign-born members of the United States military who served honorably during various conflicts may be eligible without already being permanent residents, or even if they are under 18 years of age
- Foreign-born members of the United States who served honorably for at least one year at any time can apply for naturalization if they apply within a specified period. They may also be exempt from residency and physical presence requirements
(3) Spouses Of United States Citizens And U.S. Military Personnel Are Exempt From Some Requirements
Some spouses of U.S. citizens and some U.S. military personnel are exempt from some of the requirements for becoming a naturalized citizen. For example:
- Spouses of United States citizens who apply to become a naturalized citizen may do so after only three years (instead of five years) and after achieving lawful permanent residency status
- Spouses of United States military personnel who are stationed abroad may not need to meet any residency of physical presence requirement to become a naturalized citizen
(4) What About The Naturalization Of Children Under 18 Years Of Age?
In many cases, kids under 18 whose parents become naturalized citizens are automatically naturalized themselves. Sometimes, though, a parent must apply on behalf of his or her child. Here’s what to know:
- A child residing in the United States under the legal and physical care of a United States citizen will be eligible to become a naturalized citizen, automatically. The parent or legal guardian must file on the child’s behalf for an Application for Certificate of Citizenship Form N-600.
- Any child under 18 years of age whose current residence is outside the United States, but is legally present in the U.S., may be able to apply for U.S. citizenship, if one parent (or a qualifying grandparent) is a naturalized citizen and meets the physical presence requirements.
- Exemptions to become a naturalized citizen are also available for children of active-duty members of the U.S. military who are stationed outside the United States. These children are typically automatically considered natural-born citizens and don’t need to be naturalized.
(5) Application For The Naturalization Process: Form-N-400
Adult applicants must meet the necessary qualifications to become a naturalized citizen. Once you have determined that you meet the requirements for naturalization, you may proceed with the application Form N-400, Application for Naturalization. Instructions and the appropriate fees for filing can be found on the USCIS website. The process can be complicated, and the assistance of a qualified immigration lawyer can make sure the application is submitted correctly and documentation is provided in the right format.
Applications may be completed either online or by mail. Candidates who fit the following categories may not complete the application online. These categories are:
- Applicants applying based on military service
- Applicants applying from outside the United States
- Applicants filing for a fee waiver or discount
If you are submitting Form N-400 by mail, the addresses to send the applications are listed by the state of residency and can be found on the USCIS website at https://www.uscis.gov/n-400.
After the application and appropriate fees have been received, the USCIS will notify you that you must attend a biometrics appointment. At your biometrics appointment, USCIS officials will take your fingerprints and photo, and they’ll get your digital signature on file.
You will need to appear on time at the designated location for your appointment. Bring your Form-551, Permanent Resident Card, to the appointment. You’ll also need to bring your driver’s license or passport with your photograph.
You will also receive a study booklet to help prepare for the civics test you’ll eventually be required to take.
(6) How To File Form N-400 Online
Filing online may be an option for you. If you do file online rather than by mail or on paper, you can create an account that allows you or your attorney to:
- Receive notifications
- View estimated completion dates for the filing process
- Receive and respond quickly to requests for additional documentation
- Update contact information
(7) You Can Check Your Case Status After You File
At any time after your application to become a naturalized citizen has been received, you may check the status of your case online. The speed of the process depends on the USCIS’s current caseload. You do need to know that the process could take months.
After you have received confirmation of your naturalized citizen application, you will receive a unique, 13-character identifier that allows you to track the progress of your case. Also, you may update any information such as change of address, email or other pertinent personal data.
When you create an account, you can see the last action taken on your file. You can also see a list of the remaining things you must do to become a naturalized citizen. The site will also allow you to submit inquiries.
Your attorney can access the site to check your case status on your behalf, too, as long as you provide him or her with your 13-character identifier and login information.
(8) USCIS Interviews And The English And Civics Tests
After you have submitted the application and fees, you will be contacted for an interview and schedule testing for your proficiency in English and government affairs. USCIS provides a video to view an example of the interview process and information to help prepare for the tests. Arrive on time with the following documents:
- Interview appointment notice
- Your I-551, Permanent Resident Card
- State-issued identification, such as a driver’s license
- Any valid or expired passports and travel documents that show your absences from the United States since you became a permanent resident
Be prepared to give honest and straightforward answers to questions asked by the interviewer. Your certified immigration lawyer can assist by explaining the potential traps and pitfalls of the process.
Most applicants will be tested in English to show the USCIS official that they can speak and understand the language. They’ll also be tested in civics, which includes questions on American history and how the U.S. government operates. You must answer 6 out of 10 questions correctly to pass the U.S. citizenship test – and the test is required for you to become a naturalized citizen.
Note: Civics studies teach the naturalization candidate how the government works, representation and voting, as well as the responsibilities of local, state, and national government leaders.
The USCIS Citizenship Resource Center website provides information to help study for the tests, information sessions that you may attend, information to help you understand your rights and responsibilities, and naturalization resources for Spanish language speakers.
Following the interview and testing, you will be advised of whether you passed or not. Officials may ask you to supply additional information before making their decision.
(9) Naturalization Ceremony: Oath Of Allegiance
If you have passed all phases of the application process, you will be notified of your official Naturalization Ceremony with a Form N-445 that will advise you of a date, time, and location of the ceremony and Oath of Allegiance. Once you arrive, you will:
- Check in at the ceremony
- Return your Permanent Residency card
- Take the Oath of Allegiance
- Receive your Certificate of Naturalization, which officially designates you as a naturalized citizen of the United States
You won’t officially become a naturalized citizen until after you’ve taken the Oath of Allegiance to the United States. You’ll receive your naturalization certificate after your oath ceremony.
(10) Rights And Responsibilities Of All United States Citizens
Upon receiving your Certificate of Naturalization, you are entitled to:
- Apply for a United States passport
- Register to vote
- Update your Social Security information
The USCIS recommends waiting at least 10 days to contact the Social Security Administration to ensure the notice of your citizenship has been added to the record.
When you’re a naturalized citizen, you’ll have the exact same rights and responsibilities that all other U.S. citizens have.
Call Davis & Associates Immigration Law Office For A Free Consultation
The dream of many immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers who have come to the United States to live and work is to become a naturalized citizen eventually. While the path to citizenship is not quick and easy, citizenship through naturalization is undoubtedly attainable given the millions who have completed the journey.
The process to become a naturalized citizen of the United States can be a long and complicated journey. Many of those who have been denied or delayed citizenship submitted poorly prepared documentation or may have had questionable legal barriers.
The best course to ensure your application for naturalization is well presented is to work with an experienced immigration lawyer.
Qualified immigration lawyers like Davis & Associates, an award-winning immigration law firm in Dallas who specializes in naturalization cases, can ensure your application process goes smoothly.
Davis & Associates attorneys and staff will work closely with you during the process of becoming a naturalized citizen. They may even assist you with information to help with the preparation for the citizenship exam, to ensure that you are as prepared as possible.
In today’s political climate, seeking immigration, residency, and naturalized citizenship is becoming more challenging, and professional legal help is essential to achieve the goals of the client.
Scheduling a free, first-time consultation with Davis & Associates will help you to understand all of the responsibilities and requirements of attaining U.S. citizenship. You will also learn the benefits of working with a professional immigration lawyer when applying for naturalization. An experienced immigration law firm like Davis & Associates in Dallas can ease the stress of applying for citizenship by:
- Ensuring the application is accurate, the right fees are paid, and all documentation is presented on time.
- making sure everything is timely.
- providing advice and support for the English and civics tests.
For more information regarding residency and naturalization issues, reference the group of articles that Davis & Associates have posted as an immigration resource.
Call today for a free consultation or fill out the brief form on the Davis & Associates website. A representative will contact you to schedule your free consultation to discuss becoming a naturalized citizen of the United States.