In this post, we’ll explore the process of applying for citizenship in the United States and provide some tips to help you apply successfully.
Becoming a citizen will not only afford you certain rights but also make it easier for your friends and family to visit or work in America.
It’s worth taking the time to learn about what is required so that you can apply as soon as possible!
I’m an immigrant applying for U.S. citizenship, so that you can read about my own experience.
Isn’t this exciting? Yeah… become an American Citizen is my dream 🙂
How to become a U.S. Citizen
Becoming a citizen of the United States will not only afford you certain rights but also make it easier for your friends and family to visit or work in America.
It’s worth taking the time to learn about what is required so that you can apply as soon as possible!
Here are the requirements to apply for American Citizenship.
1. You must be 18 years old or older;
2. You must have lived in the U.S. for at least 5 years, and you need to have been in that period continuously;
3. Pay the application fee that varies depending on your situation (if you are married to a U.S. citizen, if you work for the government, etc.);
4. You need to show knowledge of U.S. history and government by taking a test;
5. If your application is approved, then there will be another interview process with an immigration officer before they decide whether or not to grant citizenship status
6. Attend naturalization ceremony at federal courthouse after passing all tests and interviews with USCIS office;
So, basically, you need to have a permanent resident card (green card), visit the official USCIS website to read the instruction, and get started by submitting Form N-400, Application for Naturalization.
You can apply by yourself or hire a professional
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services provides an online filing option for those who qualify and an article with information on applying for U.S. citizenship in the United States and what you need before applying, such as a green card or proof of work history (and other requirements).
You can apply yourself or hire a professional to help you if you are not comfortable filling and submitting the form.
I have a friend that used the professional service from an immigration lawyer to help her. But, unfortunately, she paid more than $1,000 to get the documentation done.
A second friend did all the process by herself, thus saving some money. She told me that everything worked pretty fine and just got her American Citizenship without a problem whatsoever.
Let’s take a look at some Frequent Asked Questions…
Do I need a lawyer to apply for U.S. citizenship?
It’s not mandatory but highly recommended. Note, you may apply for citizenship yourself or hire a professional to help you if you are not comfortable filling and submitting the form just like my friend did.
Where do I get the U.S. Citizenship application form?
How long does it take to become a U.S. citizen with a green card?
It all depends on the immigration process and how fast you apply for citizenship. You can find out more about it on the USCIS website.
The average time is naturalization via the N-400 application is around 12 months. Still, as soon as you get a green card, your permanent residency status will start to be processed by USCIS.
When you have a pending application, you can check the status at any time by looking up your receipt number.
The USCIS website provides a processing time estimate for each office depending on the N-400 form submission. If your case is taking longer than the USCIS tool estimates, you can make a case inquiry.
How much does it cost to apply for U.S. citizenship?
If you are a permanent resident and want to apply for citizenship, the process will cost about $725.
You will have to pay this fee again once your application is approved. The total amount can be up to $975 if you don’t know or remember what country your birth certificate is from, so it’s important to double-check.
What is the fastest way to get U.S. citizenship?
The fastest way to get citizenship is to marry a U.S. citizen or to have an immediate relative who’s already a U.S. Citizen petition for you, but this may not be possible if you are over 18 years old and married with children of your own.
How long is the citizenship interview?
The interview can last up to 2 hours. You will be asked about your work experience, education history, health conditions, criminal record in the country of origin, or any other relevant information.
The interviewer may ask difficult questions like “What do you think is a right?”
You can prepare for this interview by answering different types of citizenship test questions: What are the colors on the American flag? Who was president during World War I?
Can citizenship be denied after passing the interview?
After the interview, the interviewer will review your application and make a decision.
You may be denied if you lied to the citizenship staff, were convicted of certain crimes, or do not meet other residency requirements.
If this happens, it is possible to apply again in the future after meeting such criteria.
Is the citizenship test hard to pass?
No, the test is not hard to pass. The questions are based on general knowledge of U.S. history, politics, and society.
You can study for the test by reading a book about these subjects or taking an online quiz that matches what you have learned.
What happens if I fail my citizenship test?
If you fail the citizenship test, you will need to retake the exam at your own expense.
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) provides study materials for those who want more practice before retaking the test.
What happens after I pass my citizenship test?
After passing the test, you will need to provide financial information (bank statements and tax returns) and a medical examination report.
You also have to answer questions about your criminal history or any past immigration violations.
What factors are considered to decide the application approval?
The USCIS uses the following factors to decide about your application :
– Your age at the time of filing for citizenship.
– The number of years you have spent in the U.S., with more than half that time being a lawful permanent resident and can show a continuous residence since then.
-Your ability to read, write, speak and understand English or another language recognized by USCIS (for example, Spanish) based on testing approved by DHS (Department of Homeland Security).
– Demonstrated knowledge in U.S. history and government from an educational institution in the United States such as high school or college coursework.
What happens to a green card if citizenship is denied?
If the reason for denial is that USCIS discovers during the review of your immigration file that you never qualified for a green card in the first place, then USCIS would deny citizenship and put you into deportation proceedings.
Can I lose my American citizenship?
It’s not easy to lose your American citizenship unless you formally request that your citizenship be taken away, you give it up, or get involved in a crime such as treason.
Can I stay on a green card forever?
You can apply to become a U.S. citizen after living in the country as a Green Card holder for five years.
You can remain a green card holder indefinitely. Therefore, there is no obligation to apply for citizenship U.S. citizen so that you can stay a green card holder forever.
I know people that didn’t apply for U.S. citizenship because their country (Netherland) laws restrict dual citizenship, so they decided to stay as green card holders and don’t apply for American Citizenship.
How many times can you take the citizenship test?
Generally, you can re-apply for citizenship as many times as you want.
If USCIS denies your application, there are alternate paths you can follow for subsequent applications. Which means you can try again.
What should I wear to my citizenship interview?
It’s best to dress in layers and still be comfortable on that day of your interview because it can get chilly inside if there is air conditioning or just feel cold without A.C.
Wear something casual that doesn’t expose much skin.
It’s not recommended to wear shorts, skirts, mini skirts. Some lawyers even don’t recommend wearing jeans!
Wear comfy shoes to keep you relaxed during the interview.
Do I need to memorize the oath of allegiance?
You don’t need to memorize the oath, but it is best to read through the language before answering.
It’s a good idea to have your citizenship application and green card with you when going in for an interview so that everything can be cross-referenced together as necessary.
How many years of tax returns are required for citizenship?
This is a question that many people ask, but the answer varies.
You will need to provide 5 years of tax returns for your spouse and all dependents as well in order to apply for citizenship. (3 years if you are married to a U.S. citizen).
Is the citizenship test multiple choice?
No, it’s not multiple choice. The citizenship test is a written exam that you will need to study to prepare and pass it.
What are the reasons to be denied U.S. citizenship?
Citizenship can be denied in the following cases:
-You were never a lawful permanent resident of the United States.
-Your citizenship application was denied by USCIS for lack of good moral character (meaning you committed a crime).
-You are not eligible to apply because your physical presence in the U.S. has been less than 18 months over a period.
Other reasons for the denial are if you have been in the United States unlawfully.
-You lived abroad for more than one year without a waiver of your residency requirement (you need to apply and demonstrate that you had good reasons for living there.)
-Your application has not met all eligibility requirements.
Does the U.S. allow dual citizenship?
You can have dual citizenship in the United States if you are a U.S. citizen and a lawful permanent resident of the U.S. (green card holder).
I hope this article can help you, please share it with your friends.
I’m not an immigration lawyer. But I know many immigrants looking to do the right thing and apply for citizenship in the U.S.
I’m a green card holder applying for my citizenship to help you understand how to apply for citizenship in the U.S.
Please contact a lawyer before starting your immigration or citizenship process.