What is Naturalization?
The process through which a foreign citizen gains citizenship in the U.S. is known as naturalization. An individual is eligible for naturalization after he completes the necessary requirements incorporated in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).
In general, the USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services) review applications for naturalization to decide whether:
- Foreign-born children of U.S. citizens by birth or naturalization meet any and all eligibility requirements prior to recognizing their derivation of U.S. citizenship;
- Individuals requesting naturalization based on their duration as lawful permanent residents adhere to the eligibility requirements necessary to become citizens of the U.S.;
- Individuals requesting naturalization because of their marriage to a U.S. citizen meet eligibility requirements for naturalization;
- Individuals who are members of the U.S. armed forces and their families are eligible for U.S. citizenship; and
- Individuals who are employed with certain entities meet the eligibility requirements for any exceptions to the typical U.S. citizenship requirements.
If you choose to begin the naturalization process, you will first be required to fill out the appropriate application. Specifically, this form is known as an N-400.
During the naturalization process, the individual will be required to attend interviews and complete a naturalization exam. The interview will allow USCIS personnel to confirm that the information provided on an individual's N-400 is true and complete. The naturalization exam includes writing, reading, and speaking portions, along with a civics test.
Who is Eligible?
Basic eligibility requirements for naturalization include finding that the individual:
- Has been a permanent resident for a minimum of 5 years and meets all other eligibility requirements;
- Has been a permanent resident for 3 years or more and meets all other eligibility requirements to file as a spouse of a U.S. citizen;
- Has had the requisite service in the U.S. armed forces and meets all other eligibility requirements;
- Has a child that may qualify for naturalization if the individual is a U.S. citizen, the child was born outside of the U.S., the child is presently residing outside of the U.S., and all other eligibility requirements are met.
If the individual has received notification that his application for naturalization has been approved by USCIS, the next step is usually to take the Oath of Allegiance at a naturalization ceremony. Once this oath has been completed, the individual has completed the naturalization process.
An individual will likely attend one of two types of ceremonies: a judicial ceremony or an administrative ceremony. In the former, the court administers the Oath of Allegiance and USCIS personnel administers the oath in the latter.
When attending the ceremony, an individual can expect the following to occur:
- Receive notice to take the Oath of Allegiance;
- Check in at the ceremony;
- Return your permanent resident card (green card);
- Take the Oath of Allegiance;
- Receive Certificate of Naturalization;
- Apply for a U.S. Passport;
- Register to vote; and
- Update his social security information.
Contact an Immigration Attorney
Working with a skilled immigration attorney will ensure that you complete all that is required of you in order to be granted naturalization. Immigration law is detailed and the application process is confusing. It is in your best interest to work with an attorney who is knowledgeable in the law and will provide you with the proper representation. Call 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673).