Citizenship by Naturalization: A Step-by-Step Process

Posted on 09/15/23

Naturalization is a process by which an immigrant can become a U.S. citizen. You may be eligible for U.S. citizenship after a permanent residency of three to five years or under certain conditions of serving in the U.S. military.

The naturalization process can be complex and often requires consulting an experienced immigration lawyer. 

Who Is Eligible for U.S. Citizenship?

You may apply for naturalization if:

  • You’ve been a green card holder for a minimum of five years and have physically resided in the U.S. for at least 30 months out of that period
  • You are married to a U.S. citizen and have been a permanent resident for at least three years, out of which you have lived in the U.S. for at least 18 months
  • You are a U.S. military member with a record of honorable wartime service of any length
  • You are a permanent resident and member of the U.S. military with over a year of peacetime military service
  • Your U.S. citizen spouse lost their life during active military service

Certain circumstances, like a criminal record, may stand in your way to U.S. citizenship even if you’re otherwise eligible for naturalization. If you’ve run into any hurdles in your naturalization process, consult a skilled immigration lawyer.

The Steps to Naturalization

Once you answer the basic eligibility criteria for U.S. citizenship, take the following steps. Keep in mind, however, that obstacles could arise at any point in the process.

1. Prepare and File Form N-400

Fill and file Form N-400 (Application for Naturalization), along with relevant personal details, two recent photographs, and photocopies of relevant supporting documentation. The latter includes photocopies of your passport, green card, visa, and birth certificates.

You must provide certified translations for any documents in languages other than English. Keep your original documents for the verification process you’ll undergo later.

2. Complete Biometric Verification

USCIS will review your application and supporting documents. You’ll then receive an invitation for a biometric verification process in a USCIS office. You’ll provide your fingerprints, which law enforcement agencies will use to check your criminal background. You’ll also need to provide your original documents during this appointment. 

3. Attend a Naturalization Interview

Next, you’ll receive a summons to an interview, during which a USCIS official will ask you questions about information you’ve provided in the N-400 form, your morals, character, attitude toward the U.S., and readiness to comply with a U.S. citizen’s duties. A skilled immigration lawyer can help you prepare for and attend the naturalization interview.

At this stage, you’ll also need to take an English language test and a civics test about the U.S. government, history, and laws.

4. Wait for Approval

Following your interview and test, USCIS will review your application and issue a decision. Hopefully, you will receive approval, but USCIS may also reject your application or schedule an additional interview. Consult a lawyer if you encounter any difficulties at this stage of your immigration case.

Once USCIS accepts your application, you’ll take an Oath of Allegiance to the United States and officially become a U.S. citizen.

James A. Welcome: Supporting You Throughout the Immigration Process in Connecticut

Are you or your family members preparing for naturalization? Not sure whether your current immigration status qualifies you to become a U.S. citizen? Contact the Law Offices of James A. Welcome. Our trusted legal team will walk you through the naturalization process, including filing all appropriate documentation and preparing for your USCIS interview.

Fill out our contact form to book a consultation with a trusted immigration lawyer in Connecticut.