Becoming a U.S. Citizen can come with many benefits and responsibilities such as having an American passport, the right to vote in public elections, as well as having the opportunity to bring your relatives legally to live in the United States.
There are many steps to gaining U.S. citizenship, such as figuring out if you are eligible, applying with form N-400, having your fingerprints taken at your biometric appointment, interviewing at a U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) office where you will be tested on your knowledge of the United States history, proficiency of English, and attending your oath ceremony.
Here we will outline what you need to know about naturalizing to become a U.S. citizen.
Who is eligible to become a U.S. Citizen?
Before you can become an American citizen by naturalization, you need to have a green card (be a lawful permanent resident). Being a lawful permanent resident of the United States could actually be considered as your first step to becoming an American citizen.
If you are a lawful permanent resident in the United States, after 5 years you could be eligible to naturalize and become an American citizen.
Green cardholders who are married to a U.S. citizen can be eligible after 3 years of being a resident to apply for U.S. citizenship.
If you meet these requirements, you are one step closer to becoming a U.S citizen. You also need to consider the following:
- Have you been convicted of any crimes?
- Have you broken the continuity of your residence by spending too much time outside of the United States?
- Have you shown signs of a bad moral character?
These are some areas that can impact you gaining U.S. Citizenship, and may make your application more complicated. If you are not sure or have questions, always speak to an immigration lawyer before submitting any forms.
Why should you apply to become an American citizen rather than remain a permanent resident?
If you are currently a permanent resident in the United States and your green card is expiring you may be thinking about taking the next step to becoming an American citizen.
Becoming a U.S. citizen can have many benefits which you don’t have as a green card holder, including:
- Protection from deportation – As a U.S. citizen, you and your children would be protected from deportation.
- Citizenship for your children – If your children are below the age of 18 living in the United States and are lawful permanent residents, when you naturalize to become a U.S. citizen, they automatically become citizens also.
- Reunite with family members – U.S. citizens are able to file immigration petitions for additional family members such as parents, siblings, and their children regardless of marital status. Whereas green card holders can only petition for spouses, minor children, and unmarried adult children. Processing wait times can also be quicker for American citizens.
- Freedom to travel – Permanent residents have restrictions on how long they can stay outside of the United States, these restrictions do not apply to U.S. citizens. Furthermore, if you are abroad you can also seek help and support from U.S. embassies and consulates if in need.
- Career opportunities – There are many careers that require an individual to be an American citizen, such as those in the federal government. If you are also a green card holder through your employer, becoming a citizen can allow you to switch jobs and open new doors.
What is the process to become an American citizen?
File Form N-400
Form N-400 is the Application for Naturalization. On this 20 page form you will need to fill out the information about your eligibility, your residency (addresses of where you have lived), and everything about who you are; from employment history to who your parents and children are.
Filing forms for immigration purposes can be very tedious and feel overwhelming, having the support and help from an immigration attorney to take the stress away from you, can ensure everything is filled out correctly and that all supporting documents are provided.
After a painful experience working with boundless immigration service with wasted resources, painful time, and highly unprofessional customer service, the Law Office of Ify Ononogbu came to my rescue. Yes, we had to start from scratch but I must commend them for an organized platform of handling customers’ private documents, exceptional customer service, and effective service rendering.
Attend Your Biometric Appointment
After Form N-400 is filed and accepted by USCIS you will be sent an appointment to have your biometrics taken. You will be provided with a date and location to attend the appointment. Your fingerprints are taken to run background checks and confirm you have not committed any crimes which would make you ineligible to gain U.S. citizenship.
Attend Your Citizenship Interview at a USCIS Office
Your citizenship interview will be one of the biggest moments on your whole immigration journey. After your biometrics are taken, you will receive an appointment to attend your citizenship interview, which will be held at a USCIS office. The Dallas USCIS office is based in Irving.
During your citizenship interview, the officer will review your Form N-400 and supporting documents, and you will be tested on your knowledge of English and U.S. civics. It is important to study for this test as you can be asked about anything from U.S. politics to historical events.
At the Law Office of Ify Ononogbu, we can help you get interview ready as well as be by your side on the day of your citizenship interview. Book a consultation to discuss your needs.
Attend the Oath Ceremony
If you are approved for citizenship you will be informed at or shortly after your interview. Being approved doesn’t make you a U.S. citizen, citizenship is gained at an oath ceremony. You will be invited to a public ceremony with others who are also becoming U.S. citizens. The oath ceremony is called that because that is exactly what you will do; recite the oath to swear loyalty to the United States.
At the end of the Oath Ceremony, you will receive your Certificate of Naturalization – congratulations, at this point you are an American citizen.
If you are ready to become an American citizen, or you have questions, make sure to consult with an immigration attorney. You can set up a consultation online or in our Dallas office to discuss your situation. Here at the Law Office of Ify Ononogbu, we will advise you as to your current status and your eligibility for naturalization. We will explain the procedures, guide you through the process, complete the necessary forms, and prepare you for the naturalization interview. For those who need to establish US citizenship, we can assist with obtaining proof of citizenship.
Ify and her team are thorough, patient, and responsive.
Ify did her research and came up with a game plan and patiently answered all of our questions, even those that had been asked and answered before. She explained all the legal terms to us in plain English so everyone can understand.
Get in touch today with your immigration and family law needs. Virtual and in-person consultations are available in Dallas, Texas with Attorney Ify.
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