For most people looking to live out the American dream, it all starts with obtaining U.S. citizenship. Fortunately, lawful residents of the U.S. who hold green cards could qualify for naturalization and become U.S. citizens. Naturalization is the process through which someone not born in the United States can become a citizen. Although this process benefits many people, there are certain criteria that must be met in order to qualify for the naturalization process.

Eligibility Requirements

In order to qualify for the naturalization process, you must meet certain criteria. However, the criteria may vary depending on each individual person’s circumstances. For example, the standard required term for permanent residence before naturalization is 5 years, but for individuals who are married to a U.S. citizen, you only need to have lived in the U.S. for 3 years. Military members also have different rules, and are only required to be a permanent resident at the time they interview for citizenship.

While there are exceptions for special circumstances, as a rule, the requirements for naturalization are as follows:

  • You must be a permanent resident for 5 years
  • You must be 18 years old or older
  • You must pass a test on U.S. history and government
  • You must show proof that you can speak, write, read, and understand English
  • You must be of good moral character
  • You must have been physically present in the U.S. for a certain period of time

To learn more about the specific rules and where you fall, visit the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services online. Or, discuss your situation with our immigration attorneys at Smith Law Offices, LLC.

How Naturalization Works

The naturalization process starts with some essential paperwork. You must complete a Form N-400, which is an Application for Naturalization. This application also requires two recent photos of yourself, an application fee, and a few other documents. At this point in the process, your immigration attorney can tell you precisely which documents you require.

Next, you will need to be fingerprinted at a location specified by the USCIS. The USCIS might also ask for additional documents at this time, which you should mail directly. You will then be interviewed and tested for citizenship. The interviewer will ask about your application, background, and may ask for other basic information. The applicant will also need to take English and civics tests to prove their knowledge of the English language and of the American government.

Once the USCIS has made a decision and you have been granted citizenship, you will be invited to attend a ceremony where you will take an oath of allegiance to the United States. You will also return your Permanent Resident Card and answer any pertinent questions about your whereabouts since the USCIS interview.

If you wish to become a U.S. citizen through the naturalization process, our firm can help. Contact Smith Law Offices, LLC to discuss your case with our St. Charles immigration attorneys.

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