If you a 'green card' holder living in the USA, then you are qualified to become a US citizen through naturalization proceedings. A naturalized US citizen enjoys many of the following privileges: the right to vote, the ability to travel outside the US for long periods of time and return to the United States, the right to join government service and eligibility for public benefits that are not available to non-citizens. Moreover, you can no longer be removed or deported from the United States. To be fully clarified on the requirements and procedure, the details are discussed hereunder for your guidance.
The Requirements before Filing Form N-400
To qualify for naturalization, the applicant must possess the following qualifications:
1) The applicant must be at least 18 years old at the time of the filing of Form N-400;
2) The applicant must be a holder of a permanent residency visa and has been living continuously in the US for at least five (5) years after admission to the US or three (3) years if married to a US citizen;
3) The applicant must be of good moral character;
4) The applicant must have no criminal record;
5) The applicant is able tospeak, understand, read, and write simple English;
6) The applicant must have a knowledge of the fundamentals of US history and government;
7) The applicant must have lived for at least three (3) months within the USCIS district where the application is filed.
When the applicant possesses the requirements above, he is now ready to file Form N-400:
Step 1. Filing of N-400
The applicant files Form N-400 at any office of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) accompanied with the following documents:
a) A valid marriage certificate, for the married applicant
b) Two (2) identical passport size photographs of the applicant
c) A copy of the Permanent Resident Card or green card
d) The filing fee payable to the US Department of Homeland Security in the amount of $ 595 and another $ 85 as payment for biometrics fee for fingerprinting costs.
Step 2. Fingerprinting
When applicant's Form N-400 has been duly approved, the next step is being scheduled for fingerprinting. At this stage, the applicant must prepare all other documents like the driver's license, passport and other identification cards. After fingerprinting, the USCIS would schedule an interview with the applicant. The fingerprints would be forwarded to the FBI for record verification.
Step 3. Interview and Examinations
The questions during the interview would beabout the application and some personal questions. The applicant is required to take English and Civics tests, unless applicant qualifies for a waiver or exemption. To meet the English requirement, the applicant is required to answer simple sentences and questions to test his ability to read, speak and write English.
Who are exempted to take the tests?
The applicant with disabilities would be accommodated accordingly and be given the required assistance until the applicant has taken the oath of allegiance. The disability should be mentioned in Form N-400. The applicant must also write the USCIS informing the office of his disability and the required assistance. For complete disability (mental and physical disability), a Medical Certification for Disability Exceptions (Form N-648) must be included in the application.
A person who is above 50 years of age does not have to take the English test and can take the Civics test of the applicant's language of choice. For over 65 years of age, the applicant does not have to take the English test and may be allowed to take a simpler version of the Civics test in the applicant's language of choice. On the other hand, a person above 50 and had lived in the US for at least 20 years after admission as a permanent resident or the applicant is over 55 years old and had lived in the US for at least 15 years are exempt from these requirements . Further, to qualify for a disability exception, the disability should be existing for at least 1 year from filing or is expected to last for 1 year. It is also a must that the disability is not caused by illegal use of drugs.
Step 4. Taking the Oath of Allegiance.
The final step to become a naturalized citizen is the taking of an oath of allegiance to the government of the United States. It shall mean renunciation of all foreign allegiances, a promise to support and defend the US Constitution and the laws of the United States and the willingness to serve the government and when necessary, the naturalized citizen may be called upon to join in the US Armed Forces to perform non-combatant service in the US Armed Forces, or perform civilian service for the United States. After the ceremony, USCIS will now issue a Certificate of Naturalization.