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Understanding the Path to US Citizenship: Naturalization and its Requirements

Understanding the Path to US Citizenship

People across the globe sacrifice much to come to America and achieve the coveted ‘American Dream.’ In this sense, US citizenship carries significant benefits, rights, and privileges.

Fundamentally, there are four ways to become a US citizen:

  • Citizenship by birth
  • Citizenship through acquisition
  • Citizenship through derivation
  • Citizenship through naturalization

This guide focuses on how foreign-born individuals can become US citizens through naturalization. If you are a Spanish-speaking resident or citizen of the USA, you can refer to tramites-usa.com.

What is the Meaning Of Naturalization?

The process through which an immigrant or a person not born in the USA becomes a US citizen is known as naturalization. This is the most common process for foreign-born individuals to become US citizens. But different requirements must be fulfilled before one can apply for US citizenship.

Generally, applicants must be 18 years of age to apply for citizenship.

Eligibility criteria

Who is eligible? How long have you physically lived in the US? When can you apply?
Green card holder without any special circumstances 30 months After 5 years
Green card holder married to a US citizen 18 months After 3 years
Green card holder with a minimum of one year of peacetime military service Not required Within six months of honorably separating from the military or while on active duty
Widower or widow of a US citizen who died while serving in the military Not required Anytime
Green card holder with less than a year of peacetime military service 30 months After 5 years
Member of the military with any period of wartime service (green card  is not a requirement) Not required Anytime
Green card holder with a minimum of one year of peacetime service and honorably discharged more than six months ago 30 months After 5 years

What are The Requirements For Naturalization?

After getting your green card, you must wait three to five years to apply for US citizenship through naturalization. The exception is individuals applying for citizenship based on qualifying military service.

In addition to this, you must satisfy the following requirements and move forward with the naturalization process.

  • Your age must be 18 and above
  • During the three or five-year wait period, you must not have taken trips of more than 6 months outside of the US.
  • You must have been a resident of the state where you are applying or plan to apply for citizenship for at least three months.
  • You must have good moral character. This is broadly defined as a character that measures up to the basic standards of an average citizen in the community. It means you must not have engaged in specific crimes like illegal gambling, murder, or intentionally lying to the US government to gain immigration benefits. The government will decide whether you meet this requirement on a case-by-case basis.
  • It is essential to pass a two-part naturalization test. The first is an English language test covering writing, reading, and speaking skills. The second is the civics test, which covers knowledge of the US government and history.
  • You must register with the Selective Service System if you are male and live in the US between 18-25 years of age.
  • If called upon, you must be willing to perform civilian service or service in the US military.
  • It would be best to defend the US Constitution when needed.

Are there Any Exceptions to The Naturalization Requirements?

There are modifications and exceptions to the naturalization requirements. These are available to those who qualify. For instance:

  • You are exempt from the English language requirement if you are 50 or older when filing for naturalization and have lived in the USA for over 20 years.
  • Due to mental impairment or developmental disability, you might be eligible for an exception to the civics and English naturalization requirements.

Prepare & Submit Form N-400

The N-400 is the application for naturalization. If you qualify, you must create your free online account, as the form is available online on the official USCIS website.

You must carefully read the instructions to complete this form and collect all the necessary documents from showcasing your eligibility for naturalization. In addition, if you reside outside the US, you must get two passport-style photos.

Submit the form online and pay the fees. USCIS will send you a receipt notice.

Complete The Interview

If you are eligible for a biometric appointment, USCIS will send you a notice. You must arrive at the designated location at the scheduled time to have your biometrics taken.

The final step is appearing for the interview. This interview completes the naturalization process. After that, you must report to the USCIS office at the scheduled date and time.

Then, the decision will be mailed to you, or if you have submitted the N-400 online, you can log into your account and check the status. It will either be Granted, Continued (USCIS may need additional documentation or evidence), or Denied.

So, is the naturalization process clear to you? If you are eligible, start the process to become a US citizen.

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