5 Steps to Becoming a US Citizen
You’ve been a green card holder for a while, and you are now prepared to take your immigration status to the next step and become a US citizen. Congratulations! Not only are you affirming your dedication to your new home, but you also enjoy benefits that are only available to those who are citizens through birth or naturalization, such as:
- The right to vote and hold public office
- Eligibility to apply for federal civil service jobs
- A US passport, which can simplify international travel
- Automatic citizenship for unmarried children under 18
In this blog, we’ll provide a general overview of the steps you need to take to bridge the gap between lawful permanent resident and fully-fledged American citizenship.
Step One: Confirm Your Eligibility
The citizenship process can be complicated. There are multiple eligibility criteria that you need to meet. They include:
- Being a green card holder for at least five years, unless you are married to a US citizen, in which case the minimum waiting period is three years. If your spouse was not born in the US, they must have been a naturalized citizen for a minimum of three years.
- Being at least 18 years old when you apply for naturalization.
- An ability to read, write, and speak basic English.
- Having a basic understanding of US history and government.
- Being of good moral character.
- Physical presence in the US for a minimum of 30 months out of the previous five years
- Being willing to take an oath of allegiance to the US
If you are concerned about your eligibility because you spent too much time outside the US or were found guilty of a non-deportable offense, a Seattle immigration attorney can review your situation and advise you on the best way to address these challenges.
Step Two: File Form N-400
When you are prepared to complete and submit Form N-400, make sure that you do so in a state where you have lived for at least three months. If you are in school and depend on your parents financially, you can apply where they live or where you attend school. When United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) receives your completed form, it will send you a notice of receipt and provide an appointment date or time for biometrics, unless there are issues with the N-400, such as incorrect documents or missing information. Should this happen, your application won’t be able to continue until the issue is corrected.
Step Three: Attend Biometrics Appointment
At the biometrics appointment, you will be photographed and fingerprinted. These will be processed through FBI and other law enforcement databases. If nothing negative turns up, the next step is an in-person interview. USCIS will send you a date, time, and address for the meeting.
Step Four: In-Person Interview
During the interview, a USCIS officer will review your N-400, verify your answers to the questions, and test your understanding of the English language and US civics and history. If you are approved for citizenship, you’ll be scheduled for a swearing-in ceremony. It is important to note that you must maintain your eligibility during the interval between the USCIS and the ceremony. For example, if you are arrested for a deportable offense during that time, your eligibility could be lost.
Step Five: Participate in the Swearing-In Ceremony
You will take the oath at a public ceremony, where others will join you in swearing loyalty to the US. You will receive a certificate of naturalization that confirms your new status as a US citizen.
Contact a Seattle Immigration Attorney
At ZafiroLaw, we have years of experience helping people understand and navigate the process of becoming a naturalized citizen. We are passionate about making it possible for our clients to realize their American dream and will provide you with the prompt and caring representation you need to make that happen. To schedule a consultation with Attorney Katrina Zafiro, call 206-547-9906.