When someone is a “naturalized” citizen, it means that they are legally a citizen of the United States. Naturalization is the process that someone from another country has to go through to become a US citizen. The first step in the process is to apply and be qualified for citizenship in America.
Once the application is completed, the person must go through an interview, take an English speaking exam and pass a civics test. Once all of those steps are completed and passed, any individual who wants to be a naturalized citizen must take an oath to be loyal to America, and then they are eligible to become a citizen of the United States. The reason that applicants must jump through so many hoops is to ensure that they are serious about being a loyal citizen.
Who is eligible for naturalization?
There are specific eligibility requirements that are set by US Citizenship and Immigration Services. The requirements are:
- You must be a minimum of 18 years old
- You must be a permanent resident
- You must be both physically present and a resident of the US for a minimum of five years prior to completing an application
- You must be of “high” moral character
For someone to be considered a resident, there are rules and some exceptions that apply to those who leave the country for an extended period of time. Before you assume that you have the right residency established, it is important to check with an immigration lawyer to know exactly what is expected and what qualifies. The USCIS also has a specific Naturalization Eligibility Worksheet that helps potential applicants learn if they have the necessary requirements to go through the application process.
If you meet all the requirements, then you can apply to be a naturalized citizen. Since it is not an easy process, the government has many useful online tools to walk you through your portion and responsibility. But sometimes it is best to hire an immigration lawyer to help guide you through the process so that you aren’t wasting your time or efforts.
Completing the application
When you work with your immigration attorney you will need to:
- Fill out the Application for Naturalization
- Have two different photo IDs that match the standards and regulations outlined by the immigration office
- Have all the documents needed to prove your eligibility
- Send in your documents and application, along with fees paid to the Service Center who will be reviewing your application
As a part of completing the application, fingerprints need to be taken. The immigration office will:
- Send you an appointment time telling you when you have to come in to be fingerprinted
- You must arrive at the location to have your fingerprints taken
- You must have your fingerprints documented
- You must supply any additional documents that the immigration office might require
The interview and test
The last step, which is the most extensive and critical, is that you will have to:
- Be notified of your scheduled interview appointment
- Go to the office at your scheduled time
- Bring in the proper identification to verify yourself
- Answer any and all questions pertaining to both your background and your application
- Take a civics and English test
When all is completed, you will receive a decision as to whether you passed or not and if you can proceed to the next steps.
Taking the Allegiance Oath
If you have been accepted and have completed all the other steps, then you are eligible to finish the last part, which is to take the oath of allegiance. You will:
- Be given a ceremony date
- Show up on your ceremony date
- Turn in your Permanent Resident Card to the proper authorities
- Answer all and any questions about the time you have spent since the interview process
- Take the official oath of allegiance to complete the process
Since becoming a naturalized citizen is a very big step, it is important to know what your rights and responsibilities are. To make sure that you are following the steps correctly and that your application will be accepted, it is a good idea to hire best immigration lawyers who can help guide you from start to finish.