US Citizenship

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How Do You Obtain US Citizenship?

There are a number of paths to citizenship. Before you can obtain citizenship, you will need to have had a green card for a certain period of time. Depending on how you obtained the green card, you must either have had a green card for three or five years.
For instance, if it was through marriage, you need only wait three years before applying for citizenship. If you received a green card through employment you must wait five years before applying for citizenship. To apply, you submit an N-400 application along with supporting documentation to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service. You will be schedule for an interview with an immigration officer, and for an English and civics test which you must pass to naturalize.
All too often lawful permanent residents do not take advantage of their eligibility to naturalize and become a United States Citizen. Obtaining citizenship can be arduous, but is the only way to be afforded full rights in the United States. Without naturalizing, you are still subject to the possibility of removal and are ineligible to exercise civil rights such as voting and owning a firearm.
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N-400 Application

The N-400 is the USCIS application form that you file to start the process of obtaining US citizenship. You submit your N-400 application along with a filing fee for the application itself and for bio metrics. USCIS updates the filing fees from time to time, and it is important that you check to make sure you are sending the appropriate fee. While most N-400 applications are approved, many are denied. The most common reasons for denial are criminal convictions, failure of the civics or English test, failure to register with the selective service, and failure to meet the continuance presence requirement. It is important that you meet with an immigration lawyer and discuss your case to make sure you meet the eligibility requirements before filing your N-400.

Good Moral Character

In order to successfully obtain US citizenship, you must be found to be 'of good moral character.' Good moral character means that a person does not have serious criminal issues in his past and he generally meets legal obligations such as paying taxes. USCIS defines good moral character as “character which measures up to the standards of average citizens of the community in which the applicant resides.” Especially for green card holders with a criminal history, even for minor misdemeanor traffic related crimes, it important to produce evidence and prepare to explain why you meet the good moral character requirement for naturalization.

Civics and English Test

While there is a multiple choice practice civics test distributed by USCIS, the actual civics test is not multiple choice. Rather, the immigration officer will ask you a total of 10 questions out of a total list 100. You must correctly answer 6 of the 10 questions in order to pass the civics portion of the citizenship test. It is important to study the 100 questions carefully before your interview. The English test has three parts. You must be able to speak English as determined by the immigration officer during your eligibility interview. There is a reading portion requiring that you read one of three sentences correctly and a writing portion requiring that you write one of three sentences correctly.

Naturalization Ceremony

Once your application for naturalization has been approved, USCIS will schedule you for your naturalization ceremony. At this ceremony, you will take an oath of allegiance to the United States, completing the process of becoming a United States citizen. Once your application has been approved, USCIS will send you a form N-445 form providing you the date and time of your naturalization oath ceremony. At the ceremony, you will relinquish your green card and take the oath of allegiance. After the ceremony, you will receive your certificate of naturalization and can apply for a U.S. passport, register to vote, and update your social security record.
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The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; instead, all information, content, and materials available on this site are for general informational purposes only.
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