How to Apply for United States Citizenship with 3 Easy Steps!

Gaining dual citizenship can be an exciting, yet intimidating process. While the excitement of becoming a dual citizen is unmistakable, the nervousness of navigating an unfamiliar application process can be overwhelming.

Fortunately, the application to become a citizen of the USA is straight-forward and in this article we will show you how easy the naturalization process can be. Upon gaining citizenship status, you will be automatically be allowed to vote, collect benefits, and enjoy the freedoms that come with the United States passport.

According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) offices, there are four ways to become a USA citizen: green card naturalization; marriage; military; and citizenship through parental rights. In this article we will take you through the steps of green card naturalization for a 5-year permanent resident by showing you how to apply, check your application status online, and gain your certificate of United States citizenship.

Green card naturalization or, simply, naturalization is essentially a three-step process: the N-400 application; the interview; and the oath ceremony. Each previous step must be passed before moving on to the next step. For example, the application must be accepted before getting an interview, and the interview must be passed before receiving an invite to the oath ceremony. Below is an outline of the green card naturalization route to United States citizen status.

Step One: N-400 Application ($595 or $680)

Before filling out the application, ensure that you are eligible to apply by answering yes to these questions:

  • Do you already have a green card?
  • Are you 18 years or older?
  • Have you been a permanent resident for at least 5 consecutive years? Note: This requirement could be modified. Please check beforehand.
  • Have you been physically present in the United States? This means that you have not spent more than a year outside of the United States at one time. It also means that your primary home is in the United States.
  • Have you lived in the region from where you are filing your application for at least 3 consecutive months?
  • Do you have good moral character?
  • Can you read, write, and speak at least basic English?
  • Can you pass a basic USA History and Government test?
  • Are you willing to demonstrate your commitment to the Constitution by pledging an oath stating you believe in it’s principals?

If you are able to answer yes to all of the above questions, then you eligible to apply for United States citizenship via naturalization. After determining your eligibility status, your next step is to fill out the N-400 application.

Informational Video — Form N-400 Instructional

The easiest way to complete the application is online through a .pdf version. This way, you are able to type responses that are more legible and you can easily edit any typos. If you prefer to handwrite your answers, you could also have the form mailed to you. For this option, you must call and request the form or fill out an online mail request submission. Again, the online .pdf is probably the easiest option, but alternative methods are helpful.

The form is twenty pages and you must use the proper edition. Until October 1, 2016, USCIS will accept both the 9/13/13 edition and the 3/26/16 edition of the N-400 form. After October 1, 2016, the 9/13/13 form will no longer be valid and all applicants must use the current application, which is the 3/26/16 edition. The application is an indepth look into you, your family, and your history so you might need to gather information before you begin or as you complete it. For example, Part 6 of the application asks for “Information About Your Parents” and Part 9 asks for a detailed list of your “Time Outside the United States.” If you are married or have even been married, Part 10 looks for thorough “Information About Your Marital History” including the marital history of your current and/or former spouse. In short, getting the information to complete the application may take time and effort, but the questions are all clear so you will know exactly what you need. Of important note: Parts 16-18 are ONLY to be completed at the interview after the USCIS Officer instructs you to do so. Also, there are additional instruction pages if you need further clarification on a question’s meaning.

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After you complete the application, you must mail it, along with any supporting documents, an enclosed filing fee, and required photographs, to the address designated by the state from which you are filing. The filing fee is $595 + an $85 biometric fee for a total of $680. The biometric fee can be waived if you meet certain criteria so check beforehand. The filing fee can be paid via personal or cashier’s check, money order, or credit card. If necessary, you may also apply for a fee waiver in case of financial hardship. Make sure you keep a copy of your application, all notices, and any enclosed items for your records.

While your application is being processed, you will receive a “Notice of Action” for your biometrics appointment. Usually, this notice arrives within a few weeks or a few months. The biometrics appointment, which is held at an Application Support Center (ASC) nearest you, is used to confirm your identity and perform any background checks and security screenings. Make sure you bring your Notice of Action, any requested items listed in the notice, and your identification to the appointment.

To stay updated on your application status and view your entire case history, register online for a myUSCIS account.

Step Two: Interview with USCIS Officer

After your application is processed, you will receive a notice with the date and time for your interview with an USCIS Officer. Your preparedness for this interview is imperative because the interviewer will ask detailed questions about your application and you will be required to pass English and Civics tests. It is extremely advisable to review your application before the interview and study for tests. Likewise, it is helpful to have someone quiz you on your N-400 form responses and the test information. Also, it is important to bring copies or originals of all documents that you have submitted or obthroughout the process.

Informational Video — Interview

During the form review portion of your interview, be sure to answer questions truthfully, calmly, and clearly. Do not hesitate to ask the officer for clarification if you do not completely understand a question. If you do not answer ask for clarification or a rephrase and incorrectly answer a question, the officer may think you are being untruthful or do not speak and/or understand English.

Also, be prepared to discuss any possible changes to your application. For example, you may have had a child or gotten a name change after you submitted the form. If there are any changes to your form, ensure that you have all relevant documents and answers available to help you answer any questions. In some cases, the officer will ask you questions about circumstances that were not part of your N-400. If this happens, remember to answer truthfully because applicants can be denied citizenship if they are not truthful during the interview.

Of equal importance, is the reading, writing, civics tests of the interview. To further help you prepare for the tests, you can download free study materials from the USCIS website.

The English test technically starts as soon as the interview does because the officer will evaluate your English language skills through your answers and understanding of questions. However, the first official test after the form review is USA History and Civics. It is an oral exam in which you must answer six out of ten questions correctly to pass. After you answer your sixth question correctly, the officer will inform you that you have passed that portion and will immediately move to the English section. In the English section, you will have three chances to read one sentence aloud from a provided list. You will also have three chances to write a sentence in English after the officer says it aloud. If you fail either portion of the test, you will have to retake it within 90 days.

If you pass the tests, the officer will immediately inform you whether they will recommend you for citizenship. After you pass the interview portion, you may be able to attend the oath ceremony on the same day. In other cases, you will be notified by mail when your oath ceremony is scheduled. How exciting! The process is almost complete!

Step Three: Oath Ceremony

Congratulations! You have made it to the final step in obtaining USA citizen status! During the oath ceremony, you will take the oath of allegiance, turn in your green card, and be given a Certificate of Naturalization. After your oath ceremony, you are an official citizen of the United States of America and you now enjoy dual-citizenship! Your new status comes with rights, responsibilities, and privileges. Enjoy this new era of your life!

Complete your immigration paperwork using our online software. We make it easy!

Complete your immigration paperwork using our online software. We make it easy!


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