U.S. Citizenship Application Process

Steps in the US citizenship application process can take anywhere from less than a year to several years to complete. Part of the variation depends on your particular situation and where you are with your application right now.

If you aren’t already a legal permanent resident of the United States, for instance, your citizenship application process starts with becoming a legal permanent resident. While this step alone can take several years, it’s a necessary part of the application process in cases where neither parent is a US citizen.

Once you’ve gained legal residency status, you must establish permanent residency with no extended absences outside the country for a period of five years. This permanent residency requirement is reduced in these cases:

  • You take active part in the American armed forces.
  • You’re married to a US citizen.

If you’re already are a permanent resident and have established residency in the United States for the required amount of time, the actual US citizenship application process time can vary widely– from between six months and a year or even more.

Applying for citizenship requires you to file USCIS form N-400, which includes a minimum six-month processing time to more than a year. Here are some tips to keep in mind as you fill out your N-400:

  • Any mistakes on your application for citizenship results in considerable processing delays, so it is important to fill out theN-400 form as accurately and as fully as possible.
  • Consider getting additional help with the application process. Professional help on your application helps to ensure your citizenship request won’t be delayed due to a preventable mistake.

Once the application has been reviewed by the USCIS and has been accepted, the agency schedules you for an immigration test and interview. The wait time for this part of the process depends on your location and where you’re filing for citizenship as some districts have longer waiting lists than others.

After the citizenship test, the average wait time for taking the oath of citizenship– and becoming a US citizen– ranges from just a day to six months. The variation depends on the USCIS district where you live will as large numbers of people applying for citizenship at the same time and at the same location will slightly delay your citizenship request.

USCIS lets you track your citizenship application online at its web site, which can help give you a sense of how long the process will take.

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