Understanding Naturalization: How Can You Become a United States Citizen?

Given the Supreme Court’s decision to defeated President Obama’s executive order that attempted to give temporary relief from deportations to undocumented immigrants, naturalization will become more important than ever to many people who wish to solidify their status and residency in the country. Being an American citizen means that you have the freedom to express yourself and the freedom to worship as you wish. It means having “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” As amazing as it is to be an American citizen, gaining citizenship in a country from where you were not born can be a difficult and daunting procedure.

According to Chiumento, Selis & Dwyer, there are only two routes for people who want to live in the United States permanently: a Green Card, otherwise known as permanent residency, and naturalization or citizenship.

If you’re interested in naturalization, read on as we delve deeper into the process of becoming a US citizen.

It’s important to start with the basics, first and foremost. Are you already a United States citizen? In order to already be a citizen of the United States, you would have either needed to be born in the US or obtained citizenship from at least one of your parents automatically after birth. If neither of these are the case, you’ll need to find out whether or not you’re actually eligible to become a US citizen. The easiest and most straightforward way to find out is by taking a look at the Naturalization Eligibility Worksheet to see if you qualify. One of the first and most important qualifications is to have been at least 18 years old and a permanent resident of the United States for over 3 years.


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When you make it through the Naturalization Eligibility Worksheet with no hang-ups, you can begin to prepare your application. You’ll need at least 2 passport-style photos – thought it’s always a good idea to have a few extras – as well as any documentation necessary to demonstrate that you’re eligible for naturalization. Prepare your application, the N-400 form, and then submit. You’ll get a receipt notice after you submit your form, and you’ll be able to track its progress either online or via the National Customer Service Center at 1-800-375-5283.

At this point, you’ll need to get your biometrics taken. US Citizenship and Immigration Services will send you an appointment notice with the information you’ll need. After your biometric appointment, you’ll be scheduled for an interview. Make sure you bring the appointment notice with you when you when you go.

You’ll receive a written notice from USCIS on whether citizenship was granted, continued (if you need additional documentation) or denied.

If your citizenship is granted, you’ll receive a notice to take the Oath of Allegiance to the United States. It might be possible for you to participate in a naturalization ceremony on the same day as your interview. If not, a notice will be mailed to you with the date, time and location.

Form N-445, Notice of Naturalization Oath Ceremony, is a questionnaire that will need to be filled out in order to take the oath. A USCIS will review the answers you provided. You’ll then take the Oath of Allegiance and receive your Certificate of Naturalization. Make sure you check it for errors before you leave!

Citizenship offers so many benefits, but it also requires each citizen to have responsibilities. When you apply, you commit yourself to the United States, and it’s important to keep in mind all that it entails.

Author: Matt Rhoney