You can be an American citizen by birth or by naturalization. Citizenship by birth means that you were either born in the United States, or one of its territories, or you have a parent or parents who were U.S. citizens at the time of your birth. Citizenship by naturalization means that you were a green card holder for a while and filed Form N-400, the Application for Naturalization.
After your application has been approved, you will be scheduled to have your fingertips and biometrics taken. After this process, you will be scheduled for an interview, which will include an English and Civics Test. If you are approved, you will be sent a notice with the time and place for the Oath Ceremony. You cannot become a citizen until you swear allegiance to the U.S.
You will receive your Certificate of Naturalization after you recite your oath. You must sign the certificate with your name as it has been printed on the certificate. Most people sign an abbreviated version of their name as their signature. If your name is John Lawrence Smith, you cannot just sign John Smith. You must create a signature that says John Lawrence Smith.
The following are a few of the steps you can take quickly after the citizenship oath ceremony:
- Report your immigration status change to the Social Security Administration. It is the responsibility of every naturalized citizen to report the change.
- Apply for a passport once you have your Certificate of Naturalization. This will serve as another legal document that proves your citizenship because only U.S. citizens are allowed to have U.S. passports.
- Register to vote. As a U.S. citizen, you can partake in all local, state and national elections. This is a great way to feel connected to your new country of citizenship
- Make a copy of your Certificate of Naturalization and keep the original and the copy in a safe place. A bank safe deposit box might be the best place to store it.