The procedure to apply for US citizenship may appear easy to some people and difficult for others. Whether you find it easy or tough depends on how well you understand the process and requirements for US citizenship, also known as naturalization.
Step 1. Meeting the eligibility requirements
There are certain eligibility requirements to be met before you can apply for citizenship. These requirements are:
You should be above 18 years of age.
You should have a been a lawful permanent resident of the US (green card holder) for at least 5 years. This duration changes to 3 years if you are married to a US citizen and have been married throughout the three years that you have had your green card.
You should have resided in the same state for at least 3 months leading up to your application.
You should have been physically present for half the duration of your time in the US as a green card holder.
You should not have left the US for extended periods of time during the past 5/3 years. If you have been absent from the US for more than a year, you may not be able to apply for naturalization since you will not be meeting the continuous resident requirement which lets you travel abroad for only up to 180 days at a time without affecting your eligibility to apply for naturalization.
You should have good moral character and conduct.
You should know basic English and should be aware of US history and government.
You should be willing to take the Oath of Allegiance.
Step 2. Completing the application for citizenship
Once you have established your eligibility to apply for citizenship, you will have to complete the application – Form N-400, Application for Naturalization. The completed and signed form should be sent to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) along with the fees, 2 passport style photos of yourself, a copy of your green card and all supporting documents that are required – birth certificate, pay stubs, marriage certificate, divorce decree, and others whichever may be applicable to you.)
Step 3. Biometrics appointment
Once the USCIS receives your application and verifies that everything is in order – completed and signed application, fees, photos and supporting documents – they will send you an application receipt notice letting you know that your application has been taken up for processing.
You will later receive another notice scheduling a biometrics appointment for you at your local Application Support Center (ASC). You will have to appear at the scheduled date and time at the ASC where you will be fingerprinted.
The FBI will conduct a background check on you. Once all goes well you will be scheduled for the next step.
Step 4. Citizenship Test and Interview
The next step will be for you to take the citizenship test and interview. The USCIS will send you a notice about your interview schedule. You will have to appear at the immigration office on the date specified.
Your knowledge of English – reading, writing and speaking – will be checked. The way you answer your questions will give the officer an idea of how well you can understand and speak the language. Most of the question may be about what your have written in your application. You will be asked to read and write a few sentences. For the civics test, you will be asked 10 questions and you will have to get at least 6 correct.
Step 5. Taking the Oath of Allegiance
If you pass the test and interview you will be scheduled for the Oath ceremony. You will have to appear on time for the ceremony with your original green card. You will be asked to surrender your green card and you will need to take the Oath along with all the other applicants who have made it to this level.
After the Oath, you become a full-fledged citizen of the United States of America and will be able to enjoy a lot of benefits while also being required to fulfill certain responsibilities.