U.S. Citizenship - Naturalization
Once you have had your green card for a certain amount of time and fulfill the other requirements you may apply for U.S. Citizenship also known as Naturalization. Below are the time frames and requirements to be eligible for Naturalization.
How Long Do I Have To Wait To Apply For U.S. Citizenship Once I Have My Green Card?
- If you obtained a green card through marriage to a U.S. Citizen spouse and are still married to that spouse, you may apply for U.S. citizenship in 3 years from the time your green card was approved;
- If you obtained a green card through marriage to a U.S. Citizen spouse but are no longer married to that spouse, you may apply for U.S. citizenship in 5 years from the time your green card was approved;
- If you obtained a green card through any other way you may apply for U.S. Citizen in 5 years from the time your green card was approved.
- Please note you may apply up to 3 months before either the 3 or 5 year time frame described above. However, you must reside continuously in the United States during the above time periods and you must still meet the other requirement to be eligible for U.S. Citizenship.
What Are The Basic Requirements For U.S. Citizenship - Naturalization?
The basic requirements for the applicant are the following:
- The applicant must be age 18 or older;
- The applicant must be a permanent resident for a certain amount of time (as mentioned above usually 5 years but through a U.S. Spouse it's 3 years);
- The applicant must have a period of continuous residence and physical presence in the United States for the past 3-5 years prior to applying;
- The applicant must be e a person of good moral character (if you were arrested for any reason you may or may not be eligible for U.S. Citizenship and may actually be placed in deportation adjudication. That is why we urge you to consult with a qualified immigration attorney before you apply for U.S. Citizenship to review any arrest(s));
- The applicant must have a basic knowledge of U.S. history and government (you are required to take a civics exam);
- The applicant must be able to read, write, and speak English. There are exceptions to this rule for someone who:
A) Is 55 years old and has been a permanent resident for at least 15 years; or
B) Is 50 years old and has been a permanent resident for at least 20 years; or
C) Has a permanent physical or mental impairment that makes the individual unable to fulfill these requirements.
How Do You Apply For U.S. Citizenship?
The applicant's attorney fills out form N-400, with the G-28 notice of appearance, a cover letter explaining what's in the package, a check or money order made to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security with the correct filing fee, 2 passport photos, along with the following documents:
- A copy of the front and back of the applicant's green card and or other proof of permanent residence,
- If the applicant is married and/or divorced copies of marriage certificates and divorce judgments and any other documents proving the marriage. If applying through their U.S. Citizen spouse the applicant is also required to submit the spouses U.S. birth certificate and/or naturalization certificate and/or U.S. passport and any birth certificates of minor children,
- If the applicant has ever been arrested they must submit original(s) of the certificate(s) of disposition,
- Men require a copy of their selective service registration card or other proof if they received their green card before the age of 26,
- Applicants eligible through their U.S. Citizen spouse must also provide copies of joint federal income tax returns for 3 - 5 years, joint bank accounts, joint bills, joint lease(s) or joint mortgage/deed, any joint documents such as insurance, gym membership etc. And any separate bills that arrive at your joint residence, about 10-20 pictures together and any other proof that the relationship is still in existence,
- Two recent passport photographs of the applicant,
- A copy of the applicants drivers license with current address, if the applicant is eligible through their U.S. Citizen spouse then also a copy of their drivers license with current address.
- Please note all original documents are required at the Citizenship interview.
What Happens Once You Submit the N-400 Application for Naturalization?
In about 2-4 weeks the immigration services will send you a receipt notice. About a week or two after the receipt notice arrives you will receive a biometrics appointment notice. The biometrics appointment is where you get digital fingerprints, photographs and a signature taken at a local immigration services office or application support center. At the biometrics appointment you can also pick up the 100 questions for the civics exam and vocabulary to study for the English exam. The vocabulary for the English exam's and 100 possible Civics/History questions can also be found on the at the USCIS.GOV website.
The next step is waiting for the naturalization appointment notice to arrive from the immigration services. The processing time to get the naturalization appointment does change depending on the back log of the immigration services office but usually it is within one year of submitting the application for naturalization and could be as fast as 2 months.
What Happens At The Naturalization Appointment?
At the Naturalization appointment the immigration officer brings you to his or her office and swears you in. The immigration officer will then request your original documentation and then give you the English and Civics Exam. You will be asked to read One or Two sentences in English and Write One or Two sentences without errors. You will also be asked up to Ten U.S. Civics/History questions out of 100 and must answer at least Six correctly. Once you pass the exams you the immigration officer will review your application and ask questions from your application itself. The immigration officer will let you know when the appointment is over. If you do not pass the Exams you will be given another appointment to try again by. Once the appointment is over the next step is waiting for the oath ceremony appointment.
What Happens At the U.S. Citizenship Oath Ceremony?
If you passed your exams and there are no issues with your case you will receive an oath ceremony appointment notice with a questionnaire on the back. You must bring with you to the oath ceremony your original green card and appointment notice. The U.S. citizenship oath ceremony usually takes place at a nearby federal court house or other federal building. Many people bring their families and friends to witness this special occasion. You will be informed about the rights of a U.S. Citizen and welcomed. A judge will administer the oath and you will repeat it out load with the other naturalized citizens. At this point you will hand in your green card and pick up your certificate of Naturalization which grants you U.S. Citizenship.
It is a good Idea to make copies of this important document as soon as you get it.
How Do I Get A U.S. Passport?
Once you have a certificate of Naturalization you submit this original document with the U.S. passport application at your local Post Office. You usually receive the passport in 6-8 weeks but are able to request expedited handling to get it faster for an extra fee.