Many foreign-born people who have arrived in the United States to be closer to their families, apply their skills and education for more significant work opportunities, or have escaped danger in their home countries, have determined that they would like to remain and eventually become a naturalized citizen of the United States.
Many individuals have been granted permanent resident status, while some others are more recent arrivals hoping to scale the ladder to eventually becoming a naturalized citizen.
While becoming a U.S. naturalized citizen takes years from the first arrival, becoming a naturalized citizen is achievable with much diligence and commitment.
According to the United States Citizenship and Naturalization Service (USCIS) Fact Sheet, over 7.4 million people were granted naturalized citizenship during the ten years leading up to 2017.
In 2016 alone, 752,800 new citizens were sworn in as naturalized citizens, with all the rights and responsibilities granted to native-born U.S. citizens.
Many of those new citizens relied on professional guidance, support, and assistance to achieve full citizenship successfully.
Experienced immigration lawyers, like Davis & Associates in Dallas, understand citizenship law entirely and can make naturalization a smooth and stress-free process.
For additional information regarding the Naturalization process, reference the Davis & Associates article, “How to Gain Citizenship Through Naturalization.”
For many, current attitudes of highly ranked government leaders against immigration, asylum, and deportation seem threatening and cause fear that achieving citizenship may feel like only a dream.
However, for those who are already permanent residents and meet all other requirements for citizenship, the threat is minimal, particularly with the proactive assistance of an experienced immigration attorney.
People who have already reached permanent resident or green card status are no longer in danger of deportation unless they have committed a felony or other serious crimes that would jeopardize their residency.
Ten Considerations for Naturalized Citizenship
(1) Qualifications to Become a Naturalized Citizen of the United States
Although there are exceptions in specific instances to be mentioned later, the starting qualifications for an individual to become a naturalized United States citizen are that you must:
- Be at least 18 years of age
- Be a lawful permanent resident (Green Card holder)
- Have lived in the United States as a lawful Green Card holder for at least five years
- Have been physically present in the United States for at least 30 months during the 5 years after becoming a legal Permanent Resident
- Be a person of good moral character with no convictions for charges stemming from immoral actions
- Prove that you can speak, read, and write the English language
- Be able to prove by testing that you have a knowledge of U.S. Government and history or civics
- Be willing to take the Oath of Allegiance to the United States of America
Exceptions to the basic rules for Naturalization include honorably discharged, foreign-born members of the United States military, spouses, and children of U.S. citizens and U.S. military.
(2) Non-Citizen Personnel Serving in the United States Military
- Foreign-born members of the United States military who served honorably during various conflicts may be eligible without already being permanent residents, or even if they are under 18 years of age.
- Foreign-born members of the United States who served honorably for at least one-year at any time can apply for naturalization, if they apply within a specified period. They may also be exempt from residency an physical presence requirements
(3) Spouses of United States Citizens and U.S. Military Personnel Exempt from Some Requirements
- Spouses of United States citizens who apply to become a naturalized citizen may do so after only three years (instead of five years) and after achieving lawful Permanent Residency Status.
- Spouses of United States military personnel who are stationed abroad may not need to meet any residency of physical presence requirement to become a naturalized citizen.
(4) What About the Naturalization of Children Under 18 Years of Age?
- A child residing in the United States under the legal and physical care of a United States citizen will be eligible to become a naturalized citizen, automatically. The parent or legal guardian must file on the child’s behalf for an Application for Certificate of Citizenship Forn N-600.
- Any child under 18 years of age whose current residence is outside the United States, but is legally present in the U.S., may be able to apply for U.S. Citizenship, if one parent (or a qualifying grandparent) is a naturalized citizen and meets the physical presence requirements.
- Exemptions to become a naturalized citizen are also available for children of active-duty members of the U.S. military who are stationed outside the United States.
(5) Application for the Naturalization Process: Form-N-400
Adult applicants must meet the necessary qualifications to become a naturalized citizen. Eligible candidates must submit a Form N-400, Application for Naturalization.
Applications may be completed either online or by mail. Candidates who fit the following categories may not complete the application online. These categories are:
- Applicants applying based on military service
- Applicants applying from outside the United States
- Applicants filing for a fee waiver or discount
If you are submitting by mail, the addresses to send the applications are listed by the state of residency and can be found on the USCIS website at https://www.uscis.gov/n-400
After the application and appropriate fees have been received, the USCIS will notify you to take your biometrics, which includes fingerprints, photo, and a signature. You will be advised when the appointment will occur.
You will need to appear on time at the designated location, bring your Form-551 Permanent Resident Card to the appointment notice and a driver’s license or passport with your photograph.
You will also receive a study booklet to help prepare for the Civics Test to follow later.
(6) How Do You File Form N-400 Online?
Filing online allows the applicant or his legal representative to establish an account that can be accessed to:
- Receive notifications
- View estimated completion dates for the filing process
- Receive and respond quickly to requests for additional documentation
- Update contact information
(7) How to Check Your Case Status
At any time after your application to become a naturalized citizen has been received, you may check the status of the case online. The speed of the process depends on the current caseload and may take months.
After you have received confirmation of your naturalized citizen application, you will receive a unique, 13-character identifier that allows you to track the progress of your case. Also, you may update any information such as change of address, email, or other pertinent personal data.
The site allows you to see the last action taken on your file and will list the next steps to becoming a naturalized citizen. The site will also allow you to submit inquiries.
(8) USCIS Interviews and English and Civics
You will receive a notice regarding the date and time for your interview and testing. Arrive on time with the following documents:
- Interview appointment notice
- I-551 Permanent Resident Card
- State-issued identification like a driver’s license
- Any valid or expired passports and travel documents that show your absences from the United States since you became a permanent resident
Be prepared to give honest and straightforward answers to questions asked by the interviewer.
Most application applicants will be tested in English to understand their fluency in the language and in Civics, which includes government and history topics.
Civics studies teach the naturalization candidate how the government works, representation and voting, as well as the responsibilities of local, state, and national government leaders.
The USCIS Citizenship Resource Center website provides information to help study for the tests, information sessions that you may attend, information to help you understand your rights and responsibilities, and naturalization resources for Spanish language speakers.
Following the interview and testing, you will be advised of whether you passed or not. Officials may ask you to supply additional information before making their decision.
(9) Naturalization Ceremony: Oath of Allegiance
If you have passed all phases of the application process, you will be notified of your official Naturalization Ceremony with a Form N-445 that will advise you of a date, time, and location of the ceremony and Oath of Allegiance. Once you arrive, you will:
- Check in at the ceremony
- Return your Permanent Residency Card
- Take the Oath of Allegiance- Only after you have said the Oath of Allegiance will you become a naturalized citizen
- Receive your Certificate of Naturalization, which officially designates you as a naturalized citizen of the United States
(10) Rights and Responsibilities of All United States Citizens
Upon receiving your Certificate of Naturalization, you are entitled to:
- Apply for a United States Passport
- Register to vote
- Update your Social Security information. The USCIS recommends waiting at least 10 days to contact the Social Security Administration to ensure the notice of your citizenship has been added to the record
Call Davis & Associates Immigration Law Office for a Free Consultation
The process to become a naturalized citizen of the United States can be a long and complicated journey. Many of those who have been denied or delayed citizenship submitted poorly prepared documentation or may have had questionable legal barriers.
The best course to ensure your application for naturalization is well presented is to work with an experienced immigration lawyer.
Qualified immigration lawyers like Davis & Associates, an award-winning immigration law firm in Dallas who specializes in naturalization cases, can ensure your application process goes smoothly.
Davis & Associates attorneys and staff will work closely with you during the process of becoming a naturalized citizen. They may even assist you with information to help with the preparation for the citizenship exam, to ensure that you are as prepared as possible.
Also, for more information regarding residency and naturalization issues, reference the group of articles that Davis & Associates have posted as an immigration resource.
Call today for a free consultation, or fill out the brief form on the Davis & Associates website. A representative will contact you to schedule your free consultation to discuss becoming a naturalized citizen of the United States.
About Davis & Associates:
Davis & Associates is the immigration law firm of choice in North Texas including Dallas, Fort Worth, Plano, Frisco, McKinney and surrounding areas. Their attorneys provide expert legal counsel for all aspects of immigration law, including deportation defense, writs of habeas corpus and mandamus, family-sponsored immigration, employment-sponsored immigration, investment immigration, employer compliance, temporary visas for work and college, permanent residence, naturalization, consular visa processing, waivers, and appeals. Attorney Garry L. Davis is Board Certified in Immigration and Nationality Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.
For more information, please visit https://dallasimmigrationattorney.com/
Davis & Associates
Address: 17750 Preston Road Dallas, TX 75252
Phone: (214) 628-9888