So, we have so far covered many of the types of visas and green card applications that you have at your disposal if you are looking to become a full citizen of the United States. But what are the actual steps to becoming a citizen, and specifically how is naturalized US citizenship obtained?
Before you contact your immigration attorney and start the process, consider these steps
#1: Find out if you are eligible
The first question any immigration lawyer will ask you is if you have a lawful permanent residence, in other words a green card. Generally, a few exceptions notwithstanding, you will need the green card before you can even think of applying for citizenship. After that, there will be additional requirements to be met. Talk to your attorney about these: there will be questions regarding the length of time you spent in the US, your character, your English abilities, your knowledge of US history and government.
#2 Find out how to overcome ineligibility issues
If you are having trouble with some issues raised by your moral character, you should not despair. Some of these can be easily overcome. If you committed a minor crime or you have broken continuity of your residence, by spending too many months outside the US, you are still redeemable. Consult with your immigration attorney in these cases, but generally, they may bring about a longer waiting period for you.
#3 Fill your N-400 form
If you know you are eligible and there are no issues regarding your moral character or your criminal record, start filing the paperwork with the USCIS. The N-400 form is the first step to get this process started. Make sure you pay the biometrics fee and all the other taxes associated with it, and attach a copy of your green card. If the application is accepted, you will be receiving an invitation by mail containing the date for your biometrics and fingerprinting process. For the fingerprinting, FBI will also run a background check on you.
#4 Attend your citizenship interview
What follows is an interview with an USCIS officer. You will have to go through all the data in your N-400 application to confirm validity. During the process, your English language skills will be tested, as well as your knowledge of civics.
#5 Attend your oath ceremony
Immediately or very soon after your interview, you will receive an approval letter. Keep in mind you are not a citizen quite yet, as you will be called in for a large public ceremony, at which you and others will be given the oath, in which you swear loyalty to the United States. Then you will be given a certificate of naturalization, showing that you are a U.S. citizen.