US citizenship comes with notable advantages ranging from voting rights and government protection to access to some jobs, employment, the right to occupy public positions, the right to receive government assistance, and more!
US Foreigners who want to get US Citizenship must go through a process known as naturalization. This process has several requirements, the most notable discussed below.
6 Requirements of Naturalization
I. Establish eligibility
Before you think of becoming naturalized or applying for a green card, you must be eligible. For instance, naturalization is preserved for adults only (18 years & above). You also need to be a current permanent resident, have a good moral character, and meet other USCIS eligibility requirements.
II. Maintain physical, legal presence in the US
You must have entered America legally i.e., via a valid visa and then maintained physical presence for a specified period of time (usually 5 years) before you are eligible to apply for naturalization. There may be exceptions to this requirement i.e., if you must travel outside the US for work.
However, you must inform the USCIS. Applicants are also expected to meet physical location requirements i.e., live within a certain USCIS district or state. The USCIS website highlights a complete list of continuous residence requirements to consider.
III. Fill-in Form N-400
After meeting the continuous residence requirements, you need to apply for naturalization via a special form (N-400). The USCIS, alongside other government agencies, assist in verifying information provided in the form. The form should be filled completely and truthfully to avoid rejection.
Some of the information required include personal information like your name, country of birth, date of birth, employment history, criminal record, etc. Other information like family history is also required. If you have problems filling in anything, consult a lawyer.
IV. Biometrics Screening
The USCIS collects biometric information as a requirement for naturalization. Your fingerprints will be collected, among other information like height, eye color, etc. Biometric screening is done at local USCIS offices near you. The essence of this requirement is to do a background check on applicants.
V. Interview/Naturalization Test
You must pass a naturalization test before you become a US citizen. Applicants are given appointments with USCIS officers who review submitted N-400 forms and ask questions related to answers provided in the form. Interviews also assess an applicant's ability to communicate and write in English.
Naturalization may also include civics - Information about American history, government, allegiance to the US, and related information. Some applicants may be exempted from naturalization tests i.e., children and elderly. If you fail this test, you will be given one more chance, after which your application for naturalization will be rejected. To meet this requirement, it's advisable to prepare thoroughly before sitting for a naturalization interview.
VI. Oath Ceremony
If you pass the naturalization test, your application will be approved shortly after your interview. Before you become a US citizen, you must take part in a public oath ceremony aimed at giving applicants the opportunity to swear allegiance to the US. After the oath ceremony, individuals receive a naturalization certificate that acts as proof of US citizenship.
To increase your odds of successful naturalization, understand the naturalization process beforehand. For instance, you need a green card to become a permanent US resident. What's more, you can only seek naturalization as a permanent resident. If you meet any hurdles when pursuing naturalization, consult a lawyer.