Citizenship by naturalization is just one of the ways in which individuals can become citizens of the United States. They first need to gain permanent legal residency and obtain a green card before beginning the process.
In order to apply for citizenship by naturalization, applicants must first complete several requirements. They must be at least 18 years of age and a permanent resident of the U.S. for at least five years. They must also be able to demonstrate good moral character and understand and speak English.
Starting a Citizenship by Naturalization Application
Once the requirements for citizenship by naturalization are completed, the next step is to complete Form N-400, Application for Naturalization. This is a United States Customs and Immigration Services form and may be obtained from their website.
Note that for Form N-400, applicants must submit two passport-sized photos, as well as documentation in support of the application. If the application is missing any documentation, the U.S. Customs and Immigration Services will reach out to obtain the requisite information.
Make sure to organize any out-of-country travel plans carefully, because one of the requirements of filing the Form N-400 is that applicants must stay in the country from the moment they apply for naturalization until taking the oath of citizenship.
Read More: What Is a Naturalization Certificate?
Fingerprints Will Be Required
One of the stipulations of the naturalization process for aspiring citizens is to get fingerprinted. The U.S. Customs and Immigration Services will provide the applicant with a date and time to get fingerprinted. If an applicant has any kind of criminal record, she may need to enlist the help of a licensed immigration attorney to help walk her through this part of the process.
In-Person Interview and Oath of Allegiance
Finally, applicants have to undergo an interview to which they must bring identification. They will be asked questions about the application and their background. It is important to answer those questions truthfully. It is at this stage that applicants are tested on their English language skills and civic knowledge. The next step is to wait for a decision.
If the interview and tests have had favorable results, the applicant is ready to take the oath of allegiance. This is the final step in the process after completing the nationalization interview.
The Naturalization Ceremony
This may be the most solemn and significant part of the entire journey to naturalization. Historically, the naturalization ceremony is one of the best parts of the process. Applicants are usually joined in the ceremony by other aspiring citizens who were also successful in the naturalization process.
Prior to taking the oath of allegiance, applicants should receive notification of the ceremony date. They also will be asked to return their permanent residency cards and to answer questions about what they have been doing since receiving the decision about naturalization status. Once these steps are passed, applicants for citizenship are ready to take the oath of office.
Rights and Responsibilities of Citizenship
Becoming a citizen by naturalization confers all the rights and responsibilities of someone who was born a citizen. A few of these rights include the right to vote, the right to run for office and the rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights. A few of the responsibilities of citizenship include: participating in the democratic process, supporting and defending the U. S. Constitution, serving on a jury, if asked to, and defending the country, if asked to.
Melissa McCall is an accomplished lawyer, science journalist and legal analyst. She graduated cum laude from Syracuse University in 2003 and spent two years as a Judicial Law Clerk, followed by 2 years at a general litigation firm and a brief stint as the Director of Environmental Protection for the Virgin Islands. Since leaving the US Virgin Islands, she has worked as a legal recruiter, legal writer and legal analyst.