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Becoming a US Citizen

All countries in the world have a legal process to enable a foreign person to become a citizen of their country. The United States is no exception.

Becoming a U.S. citizen is called Naturalization. A foreign person must meet certain requirements to apply for citizenship.

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So, an application must be completed, they must be interviewed by the immigration authority, and a decision will be made whether or not to grant a Visitor’s Visa, a Student Visa, or a Permanent Resident Card.

There are other requirements if a foreigner is applying for refugee status. Once a person has been granted a Permanent Resident Card, most people proceed and apply for naturalization.

Requirements for Naturalization

  • The applicant must be at least 18 years old.
  • The person must have been a lawful permanent resident of the U.S. for at least 5 years prior to the date of the application for naturalization.
  • The person must have been physically present in the U.S. for at least 5 years prior to the date of the application for naturalization.
  • The person must be able to understand and speak English.
  • The person must be of good moral character and have had no convictions since entering the U.S.

There are some exceptions to the residency rules and these can be explained by an immigration attorney who can also coach the applicant through the interview process.

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Completing the Application

  • The form to use is Form N-400, Application for Naturalization.
  • Obtain 2 photographs that meet immigration requirements.
  • Collect all the necessary documents listed in the N-400 form.
  • Send the application, documents, photographs, and filing fee ($725 cheque or money order) to the correct Service Center.

The applicant must reside continuously in the U.S. after the date of application until naturalization is granted.

You can expect a letter from the United States Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS) that will describe your appointment location, date, and time to appear for fingerprinting.

If they require other documents, they will describe what is needed to be sent in.

USCIS HQ
USCIS HQ

The Interview and Tests

After some time (sometimes weeks and sometimes longer) you will be contacted by the USCIS by letter which will describe the appointment of your interview.

You will be given the location, date, and time to appear. You must bring your identification documents with you.

Proof of where you have been living (tenancy agreement, paid utility bills, school attendance records, etc.) are useful.

tenancy agreement

If you have been working, proof of employment and dates of employment will be proof you have been in the United States and not in another country since your application was submitted.

You will be required to answer questions in English about your application and your background.

You will then be asked to take the English and civic tests.                                                                                                                                  

You will receive a letter from the USCIS describing the decision about your naturalization.

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Oath of Allegiance

If you have successfully completed the interview and tests, you will receive a letter from the USCIS indicating the date, time, and place of the naturalization ceremony.

When you check-in at the ceremony, you will be asked to return your Permanent Resident Card.

You will also be asked to explain what you have been doing since the date of your interview. You will then be asked to take the Oath of Allegiance to the United States of America.

Quiz Time!

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QUESTIONS

What is becoming a United States citizen called?

How long does a foreign person have to have lived continuously in the U.S. before they apply for naturalization?

In what language are the interview and tests administered?

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What would prove a person has been living continuously in the U.S. for at least 5 years after the application for naturalization was submitted?

What department advises a person of the location, date, and time of their interview, tests, and naturalization ceremony?

 ANSWERS

Becoming a United States citizen is called naturalization?

A foreign person has to have lived continuously in the U.S. for at least 5 years before they apply for naturalization.

united-states-facts

The naturalization interview and tests are in the English language.

Proof of school attendance or proof of continuous employment would prove a person was continuously living in the U.S. for at least 5 years after the application for naturalization was submitted.

The USCIS advises a person of the location, date, and time of their interview, tests, and naturalization ceremony.

US Government

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