The Path to U.S. Citizenship: A Step-By-Step Guide
One of the most important benefits of becoming a U.S. citizen is that you will access certain rights, privileges, and protections not available to non-citizens. These include the right to vote in elections, travel freely between states, increased job opportunities, and access to government programs such as Social Security.
But navigating the legal system can be confusing and overwhelming, especially when trying to gain legal status in the U.S. There are dozens of documents to fill out, forms to sign, and fees to pay, as well as a large amount of information on what is required for a successful application. There is no need to continue feeling frustrated.
This guide will give you information to make this U.S. citizenship process as streamlined and accessible as possible. Let’s begin.
The Journey To U.S. Citizenship
To obtain U.S. citizenship, you must fulfill specific requirements and follow various procedures depending on your immigration status and other factors. Let’s take a look at the process of how to become a U.S. citizen.
Eligibility and U.S. Citizenship Requirements
The eligibility requirements are based on age, immigration status, and time spent in the country as a permanent resident. To become a U.S. citizen, you must:
- First, be at least 18 years of age.
- Lawful permanent resident of the United States for at least five years (or three years if you are married to a U.S. citizen)
During this time, you must have been physically present in the United States for at least half of those years and not have taken any extended absences outside the country. Additionally, you must demonstrate that you know the U.S. government and history by passing a citizenship test and showing “good moral character.”
Filing the N-400 Application
The N-400 application is a U.S. citizenship application that you should complete. To begin the process, you must fill out and submit an online form, which can be found on the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website. You must provide basic personal information such as:
- Your name,
- Date of birth,
- Place of birth,
- Marital status, and other information.
You must also provide:
- Birth certificates,
- Marriage certificates,
- Divorce decrees,
- Tax returns, and more to support your application.
The biometrics appointment is a critical component of the immigration process for those seeking a visa or permanent residency in the United States. The applicant must have their fingerprints and photograph taken for a background check during this appointment. This information is then sent to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for processing.
After completing the biometric appointment, the DHS will use this information to determine if you are eligible for immigration benefits.
U.S. Citizenship Test and Interview
The U.S. Citizenship Test and Interview are essential steps in the naturalization process. The U.S. citizen test consists of 10 questions covering American history and government. Applicants must correctly answer 6 out of 10 questions to pass the test. During the interview, USCIS officers will ask applicants questions about their application and background information.
Oath of Allegiance and Ceremony
The Oath of Allegiance promises to support the United States Constitution and serve the country loyally. The oath is taken by all citizens joining the U.S. Armed Forces, federal employees, and naturalized citizens, along with other new immigrants.
The Oath of Allegiance ceremony typically begins with an introduction from the presiding official or celebrant. The pledge of allegiance is then recited by the group, followed by a brief explanation of the significance of the oath. Afterward, each individual takes an Oath of Allegiance, in which they promise to honor and respect their country and its laws.
Learn More About Your Requirements With U.S. Immigration Lawyers
At Presti Law Firm, we understand that the immigration process can be challenging. You might be feeling anxious about all the interviews and documentation. That is why it is crucial to have a knowledgeable and experienced legal team on your side. Our team has years of experience helping people of all legal statuses. You shouldn’t have to worry about your legal status in the U.S. We provide personalized guidance every step of the way. We are committed to providing quality legal services that are easy to understand and follow.
Request a case evaluation from our staff to get started.