When considering how to get US citizenship, an individual must understand the processes involved and how to best approach the situation to receive the desired results. The benefits of becoming a citizen of the U.S. are numerous. For instance, a person can enjoy the right to vote, have the right to run for public office, join the U.S. military, and receive the right to travel and live abroad without losing citizenship status. While at first the process may seem overwhelming, to many the benefits outweigh the possible pitfalls involved in applying for citizenship.
Am I Eligible to Apply?
The first step is to determine whether or not you are eligible for citizenship. The conditions to which you must comply are as follows:
- You must have permanently resided in the U.S.
- You must have lived in the U.S for 5 years consecutively in lawful permanent resident status, or for 3 years if you obtained your residency through marriage to a US Citizen (additional exceptions apply to those who have served in the military on active duty as non-citizens).
- You must prove that you are a person of good moral character (you are not a criminal and uphold the standards or moral character held by the U.S.).
- You must prove you know English and have an understanding of American history and politics. This knowledge will be assessed upon successful completion of USCIS exam at a scheduled interview.
What Happens Next?
Once you have established that you are eligible for citizenship, it is time to fill out the proper forms for your formal application. First you must fill out the Application for Naturalization Form N-400 and send it in to the USCIS along with documentation proving your eligibility outlined above.
Once the Form has been accepted by the USCIS, they will send you a letter informing you of your fingerprinting appointment (“biometrics”). You must be sure to attend this appointment. Along with this letter, you may receive a request for additional information regarding your application or a request that you bring additional documents with you to the interview.
Next, your presence will be requested for an interview with a representative from the USCIS. At this time you will be asked a variety of questions and will need to bring all forms pertaining to your application and several forms of identification. Once your information has been reviewed, USCIS will advise you to participate in testing to demonstrate your English proficiency as well as knowledge of U.S. history and politics.
If you have completed all requirements USCIS has requested promptly and efficiently and no discrepancies have been found in any of your information, your application will be approved and you will be asked to attend a citizenship ceremony. At this ceremony you will take an oath to the U.S. and will receive a certificate stating you are a naturalized citizen. Not until you give the oath will you be considered a United States citizen.
As the citizenship process can be a complicated one, it is advised that you seek the assistance of an experienced Massachusetts immigration attorney in order to ensure your success on the path to citizenship. Please contact Attorney Sarah Vitelli with any naturalization questions.