Everything You Wanted to Know About the US Citizenship Process

Statue of Liberty

The process of becoming a U.S. citizen can be lengthy and occasionally frustrating. It begins when you first receive your gain permanent residency and ends at your naturalization ceremony. All told, it usually takes around a half to a full year. We’ll walk you through the whole process from beginning to end, as well as the citizenship services we provide at Monument Immigration.

Making Sure You’re Eligible for Citizenship

Before you can begin the naturalization process, you need to check that you meet all of the eligibility requirements to become a U.S. citizen. These include:

  • Being a lawful permanent resident (green card holder)
  • Being a minimum of 18 years old
  • Showing that you have been continuously present in the U.S. for a minimum of five years (only three years if you are married to an American citizen)
  • Showing that you have lived for at least three months in the same state or district where you currently live

Check here for more details on eligibility requirements.

Getting Your Forms Processed and Your Application Ready

The most common piece of paperwork to begin the process is called  Form N-400, Application for Naturalization. You’ll be asked for other documents and information, as well as passport-sized photos taken recently.

The processing time for applications varies by geographic location. You can contact your local application review center to get an estimate for you long it will take to review your application. Once your application has been received, it will be reviewed it to see if you qualify for American citizenship, before you are notified as to the next steps in the process.

Getting Your Biometrics

Once your application has been completed and submitted, you will receive a letter with a time for your biometrics appointment. This is done at your district’s Application Support Center. They will take a photo, fingerprint you, and get your signature. This information will be used to run a criminal background check on you.

Once this part of the process is completed, USCIS may contact you requesting more information. They will send a letter detailing what they require, as well as the deadline by which all requested information must be submitted. When your application is deemed to be complete by an immigration official, an interview time will be set. The details of all of this will be communicated by mail.

The Interview Process

At the citizenship interview, your application will be reviewed to see if you qualify for naturalization at the current time. This is done by an immigration official, who will meet with you to discuss your application. They will review it and ask for any additional information they may need to make a decision. Questions asked may include questions about a relative or the employer who allowed you to apply for a green card.

If you have a criminal background, the officer will likely ask you to provide information related to any past criminal conduct. If you have a criminal history, make sure you clearly explain what happened. Once the interview has been completed, a decision will be made on your eligibility.

Taking the Citizenship Test

If you pass the interview, the next step will be to take the tests required for citizenship. The English test involves reading phrases out loud, as well as writing. Some applicants may be able to avoid taking the exam, including those above a certain age or certain long-term permanent residents.

The history test involves a series of questions on major events and people relating to the United States. The proctor overseeing your test will pick 10 questions that are found on the study guide. In order to pass, you must answer 60% correctly. Just like for the English test, some applicants may be able to get out of taking the exam in its entirety. These include  those over a certain age and certain long-term permanent residents.

And Finally… The Naturalization Ceremony

It’s been a long road so far for you and your family, but once you’ve passed your tests, you’re ready for the ceremony, the final step towards becoming a citizen of the United States. You will receive a letter communicating the details of your naturalization ceremony. How long it takes to receive the letter and schedule your ceremony will depend on your area. Some of them move quicker than others, so don’t worry if people in other districts hear before you. A time will eventually be set.

Once the ceremony begins, you take an Oath of Allegiance to the United States, and turn your green card in for a Certificate of Naturalization (more here on the difference between naturalization and citizenship). This officially certifies you as an American citizen.

And then… that’s it! It’s been a lot of hard work and sweat and tears, but you’re now officially a citizen of the United States. Congratulations, you’ve earned it.

Any More Questions for Us?

At Monument Immigration, we have years of experience working with clients on all areas of immigration law, from green cards to naturalization. The naturalization process can be exciting as well as nerve-wracking for you and your family. That’s why you should feel free to reach out to us at Monument Immigration, no matter what the question is. Contact us for a free consultation and we can give you more information on every aspect of becoming a U.S. citizen.

We help you prepare your application by assisting you in gathering information and documents.

Once we feel your application is ready for submission, we send it off to officials for review. In most cases, we can have your application ready within 48 business hours of receiving your information and documentation. We know how long the process can take, so we do everything in our power to make it go as quickly as possible.

Immigration law is all we do. That means you and your application are our main focus. Contact us today to see what we can do for you.