Choosing to become a citizen of the U.S. can be an important and an exciting decision. Becoming a U.S. citizen means getting access to a lot of rights. The following article that sheds light on the naturalization process will help green card holders who want to become U.S. citizens to successfully complete the U.S. citizenship application process. Here are the steps involved in the U.S. citizenship process.
General steps in the U.S. citizenship process
Is the applicant already a U.S. citizen?
Some may be U.S. citizens but may not be aware of the fact that they already hold U.S. citizenship. Only those who are not citizens by birth and who did not acquire or derive citizenship from their parents, can go through the naturalization process. If they are already citizens, they will need to apply to get a citizenship certificate and cannot move on to the next step.
Determine eligibility to become a citizen
Not all green card holders can apply for naturalization. Only those who meet specific naturalization requirements can apply. They will have to review the citizenship eligibility requirements before they could file an application to become a citizen.
Prepare Application for Naturalization
Form N-400, Application for Naturalization is the form that needs to be filed by anyone who wishes to apply to become a U.S. citizen. However, the U.S. citizenship process not only involves completing and filing this application but involves a number of steps.
The form can either be downloaded and completed or filled out online. It is important to go through the form instructions before completing the form. This application packet needs to include two passport style photographs and documents to establish eligibility for citizenship.
Submit your Form N-400
The completed N-400 application must be submitted to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Soon after the immigration agency receives the application, it will issue an application receipt notice. This notice will have the receipt number with which the progress of their case can be monitored online. Applicants can also get information on their case status by calling the National Customer Service Center at 1-800-375-5283.
USCIS will schedule a fingerprinting appointment once it approves the application. Applicants will need to be present at the specified Application Support Center at the right time to get their fingerprints taken.
The next step is the naturalization test and interview, one of the most important steps in the citizenship process. This will be the last step in the process. It is important not to miss the interview. To be on the safer side, applicants will have to be present at the location at least 30 minutes before the scheduled interview with all the required documents. They must also have their appointment notices with them.
Receive a decision on Form N-400
Applicants may be granted or denied citizenship or they may be asked to provide additional documents for USCIS to decide on their cases.
If the written notice they receive from USCIS says “Granted,” then they can sit back and wait for their invitation to attend the naturalization oath ceremony.
They need not panic if a decision has not been taken yet and if the notice says “Continued.” This means USCIS requires additional documents to decide their cases. This decision may be issued to people who have not got through their English or civics tests the first time or failed to provide all the required documents.
A notice saying the application has been “Denied” may be issued to people who are not eligible for citizenship. If the evidence that they applicant has submitted fails to establish eligibility for citizenship in the U.S., USCIS will reject the application.
Oath of Allegiance
Those whose applications have been approved will be able to take part in the naturalization ceremony. This ceremony may be held on the same day of their naturalization interview or on a different day. If the ceremonies are not held on the day of the interview, the applicant will be sent a separate notice with details of where and when to attend the ceremony.
Take the Oath of Allegiance to the United States
Form N-445, Notice of Naturalization Oath Ceremony should be completed before taking the Oath of Allegiance to the U.S. The answers to the questionnaire will be reviewed by an immigration officer. Before taking the oath, immigration officers will ask those ready to take the oath to surrender their green cards. The soon to-be citizens will then have to take the oath and pledge allegiance to the U.S. after which they will then be issued naturalization certificates. The new citizens can make sure their names and other information are printed right on their certificates. In case there are mistakes, they can notify the USCIS officers before they leave.
Apply for U.S. Passport
As the next step, the citizens can apply for U.S. passports. They can then continue to live in the U.S. as U.S. citizens and enjoy the same rights and benefits that the other natural born citizens enjoy.