Every year, millions of foreign-born individuals apply to become naturalized citizens, and they make up 44% of the U.S. foreign-born population. Naturalization is the process in which a person voluntarily becomes a U.S. citizen. But what are the requirements for naturalization, and how complicated is the process? Immigration law in the U.S. is a complex legal field that can be challenging for noncitizens to navigate without the assistance of a knowledgeable naturalization attorney. Understanding the naturalization process is imperative for protecting your rights to U.S. citizenship.

What are the requirements for naturalization?

Applicants must meet certain eligibility requirements before applying for naturalization. A person’s circumstances can also affect which conditions apply to them. A naturalization attorney can help noncitizens figure out which eligibility requirements may or may not apply to them specifically. The general requirements for naturalization are:

  • Applicants must be at least 18 years of age when they file Form N-400, Application for Naturalization.
  • Applicants must have a green card for at least five years before filing.
  • Noncitizens must demonstrate that they have lived for at least three months in the state or USCIS district where they are applying for naturalization.
  • Applicants must show that they have lived continuously in the U.S. for at least five years before the date the filed Form N-400.
  • They must demonstrate that they have been present in the U.S. for a minimum of 30 months of the five years before the date of filing Form N-400.
  • Applicants must be able to speak, read, and write basic English.
  • Applicants must demonstrate good moral character.
  • Applicants must demonstrate a basic understanding of civics and U.S. history.
  • Applicants must show an attachment to the ideals of the U.S. Constitution.

What is the process for naturalization?

Generally, the process to become a naturalized citizen will include the following ten steps:

  1. Find out if the applicant is already considered a U.S. citizen.
  2. Determine if the applicant is eligible to become a U.S. citizen (and if there are no risks involved).
  3. Complete Form N-400.
  4. File a completed Form N-400.
  5. Get fingerprinted, if applicable.
  6. Complete an interview.
  7. Receive a decision on their Form N-400 from USCIS.
  8. Receive a notification to take the Oath of Allegiance.
  9. Take the Oath of Allegiance.
  10. Understand their responsibilities and rights as a naturalized U.S. citizen.

What happens during the naturalization interview?

A USCIS Officer will ask questions about the applicant’s background and the information the applicant listed in Form N-400. The applicant will also need to complete and pass a civics and English test, which is comprised of separate reading, writing, and speaking sections. It is possible to qualify for a waiver from these tests, and a skilled naturalization lawyer can help determine if an applicant meets the requirements for an exemption from testing.

If you were born outside of the U.S., you might be eligible to become a naturalized U.S. citizen. The knowledgeable naturalization attorneys at Landerholm Immigration, A.P.C. can answer your questions about the requirements and process for naturalization. Please contact the office at 510-756-4468 to learn more.