US Naturalization: The Ultimate Guide

US Naturalization: The Complete Guide

Updated: 20 February 2024

Getting U.S. citizenship symbolizes your commitment to the nation’s values and grants you rights and freedoms under the U.S. Constitution. 

U.S. naturalization is a pivotal decision for immigrants, marking a profound commitment to the United States and its constitutional principles. It is not just a formality; this process is a transformation uniting people with the civic ideals of the American nation.

The process of naturalization is applicable for lawful permanent residents to become U.S. citizens. It is voluntary, selective, and not everyone can walk this path or may want to.

In this article, we will explain what U.S. naturalization entails. Let us describe the essential steps and factors to ease this vital process for you.

Before we go deeper, here are a few points about U.S. naturalization:

  • It is primarily available to green card holders for three to five years
  • Those meeting specific military service criteria can start the process
  • Citizenship can be acquired through U.S. citizen parents at birth or before age 18

How to Get the US Naturalization Certificate?

Obtaining a U.S. Naturalization Certificate varies depending on your citizenship status.

  • For citizens by birth or naturalization
  • For lawful permanent residents
  • Replacing a lost or damaged certificate
  • Special certificate of naturalization

Check Your Eligibility for Naturalization

Immigrants can become citizens of the United States by naturalization. There are a couple of forms you can apply for naturalization.

  • You can apply for naturalization through “Application for Naturalization” through Form N-400.
  • If you want to apply for citizenship for a child under 18, you can use Form N-600 or Form N-600K.

To access the forms, you can visit the U.S. government website.

Certain Requirements for the Applicants of Naturalization

  • Being at least 18 years old
  • Being able to read, write, and speak basic English
  • Being a good moral character
  • Being a lawful permanent resident (Green Card holder) for five years
  • Being married to a U.S. citizen
  • Being a U.S. military service member (active duty or veteran)
  • Being a child of a U.S. citizen
  • Having continuous residence in the U.S. for at least five years
  • Passing a civics test (U.S. history and government) and an English test

What are the Steps of the US Naturalization?

Here are some steps to gain a US naturalization.

Step 1. Are you already a U.S. citizen?

You can pass this step if you do not have these circumstances;

  • You are not a citizen of the U.S. by birth.
  • You did not acquire U.S. citizenship from your parent(s) after birth.

Step 2. Are you eligible to become a U.S. citizen?

Review the naturalization eligibility requirements. These will help you decide if you are eligible to apply for naturalization.

Step 3. Prepare your application for naturalization

You can create your free online account and fill out this form online.

What do you need to take into consideration when filling out the form?

  • Read the instructions to complete Form N-400.
  • Be sure to collect the necessary documents to demonstrate your eligibility for naturalization.
  • If you reside outside the United States, you will need to get two passport-style photos taken.

Step 4. Submit your Form N-400 and pay your fees

USCIS will send you a receipt notice when you submit Form N-400. Then, you can check case processing times and see your case status online.

Step 5. Go to your biometrics appointment

If you need biometrics, USCIS will send you an appointment notice. You can arrive at the designated location at the planned time to have your biometrics taken.

Step 6. Complete the interview

When your case’s preliminary processes are complete, USCIS will schedule an interview. Then, you will be able to complete the naturalization process.

Step 7. Wait for the decision from USCIS on your Form N-400

For the last step, you will get a mail notice of decision from USCIS. If you filed your N-400 online, you could also find the electronic notice in your account.

Step 8. Get a notice to take the Oath of Allegiance

If USCIS approves your Form N-400 in step 7, you may participate in a naturalization ceremony on the same day as your interview. If a same-day naturalization ceremony is unavailable, USCIS will mail you a notification for the details.

Step 9. Take the Oath of Allegiance to the United States

You will take the Oath of Allegiance at your Naturalization ceremony to become a U.S. citizen.

Step 10. Understand U.S. citizenship

When you get your citizenship, do not consider it over. Try to understand the common thread that connects all Americans.

What are Your Rights and Responsibilities as a U.S. Citizen?

As a U.S. citizen, you have specific rights and responsibilities foundational to maintaining America’s freedom and prosperity. Some of these responsibilities are legal obligations. In addition, all are crucial in ensuring the nation’s enduring strength and values.

Your Rights:

  • Freedom of Expression: You can voice your opinions and beliefs.
  • Freedom of Worship: You can practice any religion of your choice or none at all.
  • Fair Trial: If accused of a crime, you have the right to a prompt and impartial trial by jury.
  • Right to Vote: You can participate in choosing public officials through elections.
  • Federal Employment Eligibility: You will be eligible for federal jobs that require U.S. citizenship.
  • Running for Office: You have the opportunity to run for elected positions.
  • Pursuit of Happiness: You are free to seek life, liberty, and happiness.

Your Responsibilities:

  • Uphold the Constitution: Know your fundamental duty to support and defend the principles of the Constitution.
  • Stay Informed: Be aware of issues impacting your community.
  • Participate in Democracy: Engage actively in the democratic process.
  • Obey Laws: Respect and adhere to federal, state, and local laws.
  • Respect Others: Honor fellow citizens’ rights, beliefs, and opinions.
  • Community Participation: Be an active member of your local community.
  • Tax Duties: Pay your taxes honestly and on time at all government levels.
  • Jury Service: Serve on a jury, if called, a vital part of our judicial system.
  • Defend the Nation: Be prepared to defend the country if necessary.

How Much Does it Cost to Apply for Naturalization?

The cost of applying for US naturalization depends on the application type and payment method. Here is a table that shows the fees for different types of applications and payment methods:

Application Fee
N-400, Application for Naturalization $725 ($640 application fee + $85 biometric fee)
N-600, Application for Certificate of Citizenship $1,1702
N-565, Application for Replacement Naturalization/Citizenship Document $5552

The Wrap-Up

U.S. naturalization is a path for many to become a citizen of the United States. It encompasses various ways, including naturalization based on residency, employment, and special provisions for military applicants.

Moreover, it is better to have an understanding of dual citizenship as becoming a U.S. citizen might affect your original citizenship status.

Obtaining U.S. citizenship opens doors to certain rights and opportunities. Whether you have personal, professional, or familial reasons, U.S. naturalization can enable you to benefit from the privileges of American citizenship.

If you found this guide insightful, you can also have a look at the “America Passport Ranking“.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take to naturalize in the US?

89 field offices process Form N-400. The current average processing time across all offices is 15.5 months. The whole naturalization process (including application processing, the citizenship interview and exam, and the oath of allegiance ceremony) takes 18-24 months on average.

Who is eligible for US naturalization?

Determine your eligibility to become an American citizen. Generally, you may qualify for naturalization if you are at least 18 years old and have been a permanent resident for at least five years or three years if you are married to a U.S. citizen. You will be expected to meet all other eligibility requirements.

How do you get naturalized in the US?

To get naturalized in the US, you need to follow these steps:

  • Meet the eligibility requirements
  • Submit application
  • Complete an interview with a USCIS officer
  • Receive a decision from USCIS on your application
  • Take the Oath of Allegiance and receive a naturalization certificate.

Which is the fastest citizenship by naturalization?

The astest is to become naturalized by marriage. Expedited naturalization by marriage requires you to live in the United States with your citizen spouse for three years.

Can I apply for US naturalization online?

Yes, you can apply for U.S. citizenship online. You can submit Form N-400, Application for Naturalization. This form is available to file online. There are exceptions and modifications to the naturalization requirements available to those who qualify.

How long does it take to get a US green card?

On average, a green card takes about two years to become available. It can take three years to get permanent resident status. It may take longer for citizens of Mexico, China, India, and the Philippines.

What is the easiest way to get United States Citizenship?

Applying for a green card is the most common way most people begin becoming a United States citizen. Citizenship through naturalization is traditionally how most immigrants become U.S. citizens.

What is the US Immigration and Naturalization Service?

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services handles the processing of applications for immigration and naturalization. Also the organization sets the guidelines for immigration services.

What are the benefits of being a naturalized citizen?

  • Global travel freedom
  • Access to federal benefits
  • Family immigration sponsorship
  • Citizenship for children
  • No more immigration paperwork
  • Federal employment opportunities
  • Voting rights
  • Eligibility for public office
  • Protection from deportation

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