U.S. Citizenship Process in 10 Steps

US Citizenship ProcessThe process people who weren’t born in the U.S. go through to become U.S. citizens is also known as naturalization. The U.S. citizenship process can be complex hence we have put together these 10 common steps in which you can go through the us citizenship process.

There are 10 steps you usually follow to become a naturalized U.S. citizen and the whole U.S. citizenship process takes approximately 6 months from the time of filing your application to getting it approved. 

Below are the steps involved in the U.S. citizenship process

  1. Check if you are already a U.S. citizen
  2. Check Your Eligibility for U.S. Citizenship
  3. Prepare Your U.S. Citizenship Application
  4. File Your U.S. Citizenship Application
  5. Attend your Fingerprints Appointment (if required)
  6. Attend Your Citizenship Interview
  7. Find Out if Your Application Has Been Approved
  8. Find Out the Date of Your Citizenship Ceremony
  9. Take the Oath of Allegiance at Citizenship Ceremony
  10. Know Your Rights and Responsibilities as a U.S. Citizen

Below we describe each of the steps.

Step 1: Check if you are already a U.S. citizen

Even if you were born abroad, it’s possible for you to already be a U.S. citizen (or to have an easier path to citizenship). You can already be a citizen though your parents.

In general, “Citizenship through parents” can work in two different ways:

  • The first is if one or both of your parents were U.S. citizens at the time of your birth and your parents meet certain requirements of time lived inside the U.S.
  • The second is if you’re currently under 18 years old, are a permanent resident, and one of your parents has become a U.S. citizenship through naturalization.

The requirements for this type of U.S. citizenship, also known as derivative citizenship, may be complicated since they depend on the U.S. immigration laws at the time of your birth or at the time when you were under the age of 18.

Step 2: Check Your Eligibility for U.S. Citizenship

In general, to become a U.S. citizen, you must make sure you meet the following:

  • You are at least 18 years old
  • You have been a legal permanent resident (a green card holder) for at least five years. (Three years if you are the spouse of a U.S. citizen. One year if you are a member of the military)
  • You have had continuous residence in the U.S. (have not left the country for long periods of time) for at least the five years before the filing of the citizenship application.
  • You have been physically present inside the U.S. for at least 30 months in the five years before the filing of the citizenship application.
  • You have lived for at least 3 months in the state where you will be filing your citizenship application.
  • You are of good moral character.
  • You are able to read, speak and write in English
  • You have knowledge of U.S. history and civics.

Step 3:  Prepare Your U.S. Citizenship Application

You have to complete and file Form N-400, Application for Naturalization with the USCIS to apply for citizenship.

Besides completing all the questions on the form that pertain to your situation, you also have to gather a list of required supporting evidence (usually photocopies of your important documents and translations to English, if necessary) and make sure you pay the appropriate filing fee.

Step 4: File Your U.S. Citizenship Application

You have two options to file your Form N-400 with the USCIS:

  • Filing online (only available for some applicants)

Or

  • Filing by mail (paper)

If you file by mail, the location where you send your application package will depend on the state you live in and whether you are sending your package by U.S. Postal Service or specialized mailing services like FedEx, UPS or DHL.

Step 5: Attend your Fingerprints Appointment (if required)

If your application requires it, you will receive a notice in the mail, Form I-797C, Notice of Action, letting you know the date of your biometrics (fingerprints, photograph and/or digital signature) appointment. Biometrics appointments help the USCIS confirm your identity and do background checks.

Step 6: Attend Your Citizenship Interview

You will receive a notice in the mail, Form I-797C, Notice of Action, letting you know the date of your citizenship interview.  During the citizenship interview, a USCIS officer will ask you details about yourself and your application. If your application requires it, you will also take your English and civics test.

The English test has three parts (reading, writing and speaking). The civics test consists of 10 questions asked orally about U.S. history and government.

Step 7: Find Out if Your Application Has Been Approved

You will receive a notice in the mail, Form I-797, Notice of Approval, letting you know that your citizenship application has been approved. This is a moment to celebrate. However, the process is still not complete. You still have to attend the citizenship ceremony!

Step 8: Find Out the Date of Your Citizenship Ceremony

You will receive a notice in the mail, Form I-797C, Notice of Action, letting you know the date of your citizenship ceremony.  During the citizenship ceremony, you will turn in your green card and take the oath of allegiance.

Step 9: Take the Oath of Allegiance at Citizenship Ceremony

Taking the Oath of Allegiance is one of the most important steps of the citizenship process. Here, you will raise your right hand and swear, under oath, your loyalty to the U.S.

After taking the oath you will receive the Naturalization Certificate and be officially able to call yourself a U.S. citizen.

Step 10: Know Your Rights and Responsibilities as a U.S. Citizen

As a U.S. citizen, you now have full protection under the U.S. Constitution, you can vote in federal elections, and live, work and travel without restrictions.

Among your new responsibilities as U.S. citizen, you must support the U.S. Constitution, obey the laws, and be involved in the political process while remaining informed on issues in your community.

Related Articles:

Citizenship Tutorial

How Much Does it Cost to Apply for US Citizenship?

Pass the US Citizenship Test and Interview DVD