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Naturalization 101: The Basics of Becoming a Citizen in the United States

Throughout its history, the United States has been a new home for immigrants from all over the world. However, today’s process to become a citizen can leave a hopeful immigrant with many questions, such as what is the naturalization process and how do asylum and green cards factor into naturalization. Here is a breakdown of how to become naturalized and any concerns surrounding the process.

What Is The Naturalization Process?

Naturalization is the legal process that allows a foreign citizen or national to become a citizen of the United States. According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), an eligible applicant for naturalization must be at least 18 years old and be of good moral character. Another very important requirement is that the applicant must be a lawful permanent resident of the United States for at least five years. This means that they must have had a green card for at least five years. An immigrant who came to the U.S. seeking asylum or as a refugee also needs a green card to become naturalized, but they can count some of their time as an asylum-seeker or refugee in the five years.

What Are The Steps To Becoming Naturalized?

Naturalization can be a long process, but it is certainly worth the wait. If you are eligible for naturalization, you should contact an experienced immigration attorney to help you through the following steps to naturalization:

  1. Complete Your Application

    This is the step that will most benefit from the assistant of an immigration attorney, as there are many documents to sort through and you do not want to overlook a single one. The most important document is Form N-400, which is the application for naturalization. You will also need two photographs of yourself that meet the requirements of USCIS and to collect all necessary documents pertaining to your life. Then, send the application, documents, and fees to the appropriate Service Center.

  2. Get Fingerprinted

    Getting your fingerprints taken is technically a part of the application, but it will be a separate process from filling it out. After sending the application, you will receive an appointment letter from the USCIS. You will then go to the fingerprint location, have them taken, and mail any additional documents if requested.

  3. Go In For An Interview And A Test

    Once they have reviewed your application and verified with your fingerprints that there is no fraud taking place, you will receive an appointment for your interview. When you go to the specified location at the appointment time, bring identification. During the interview, you will answer questions about your application and your background. You will then take an English test and a civics test. At that time you will receive a decision on your naturalization.

  4. Take The Oath Of Allegiance

    If all goes well, the last step is taking the oath of allegiance at a designated ceremony date. At the ceremony, you will return your Permanent Resident Card, answer questions about what you have been doing since the time of your interview, and take the oath.

Hopefully, you’ve been able to gain an answer to what is the naturalization process, and you feel confident to take the first steps towards naturalization. A total of 753,060 people were naturalized in the United States in 2016, and by consulting an immigration attorney today you can join the thousands becoming U.S. citizens.

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