While many people come to the United States to each year as immigrants, not all choose to pursue naturalization. This involves the process of becoming an actual citizen, with all the rights and responsibilities that go along with it. Naturalization can be a long and confusing process, but our Tampa immigration lawyer is here to help. The following outlines the requirements for becoming a naturalized citizen of the U.S. and the steps involved in the process.
Qualifying for Naturalization
There are numerous options for coming to the United States, whether your intent is to work, to go to school, or to reunite with other family members. Naturalization can be seen as the culmination of the process of obtaining a visa, visiting the country, living, and working here while you develop ties in the community, and finally taking an oath of allegiance and claiming it as your own.
The process for becoming a citizen of the United States can take years to complete. The first step is determining whether you qualify. You must have a valid Permanent Resident card, otherwise known as a green card, for at least five years before applying or three years if you are the spouse of a current U.S. resident. Additional eligibility requirements include:
- You must be at least 18 years old at the time you apply for naturalization;
- You must be able to read, write, and speak basic English;
- You must have a basic understanding of U.S. history and government;
- You must show an attachment to the U.S. Constitution and the principles under which the country was founded;
- You must be a person of good moral character, with no history of deviant behavior or convictions for felony crimes over the prior five-year period.
You must also meet certain residency requirements, which includes being in the U.S. continuously for close to three of the past five years and being a resident of the state in which you file for at least three months.
Steps in the Naturalization Process
U.S. Custom and Immigration Services (USCIS) outlines the path to citizenship in the pamphlet 10 Steps to Naturalization. Once you have determined that you qualify to be a citizen of this country, additional steps you will need to take include:
- Filing form N-400, Application for Naturalization with the appropriate supporting documents.
- Submitting to biometrics, which involves being fingerprinted and photographed for the purpose of running a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) background check and paying the required fees.
- Attending an in person interview with USCIS where, unless you are exempt, you will be given English and civics tests.
Once these steps are completed, you will be notified of whether your application is approved or denied. If you believe a denial was issued in error, you may appeal the decision.
Reach Out to Our Tampa Immigration Lawyer
At the Benkabbou Law Firm, PLLC, we are here to guide you through every step of the naturalization process. Reach out and contact our Tampa immigration lawyer to request a consultation about your case and how we can help you.