For green card holders, becoming a naturalized citizen is a sought-after end goal. Or, if you have the proper visa and are hoping to become a naturalized citizen at some point in the future is something that many consider.
Some individuals may find the process easy, whereas others will have trouble becoming naturalized citizens. For those in the latter group, immigration solutions like ImmigrationDirect can help make the process a bit easier.
No matter your current situation, this guide will help you determine whether or not becoming a naturalized citizen is in the cards for you.
What Is a Naturalized Citizen?
Naturalized citizens are individuals who have entered the country legally and on a proper visa and then wishes to gain citizenship permanently. Any foreigner can obtain this process as long as they have entered legally and meet the requirements listed below.
Who Is Eligible To Become a Naturalized Citizen?
Naturalized citizenship requires you to meet certain criteria. But which person is eligible to become a naturalized citizen? To find out, see if you can check off all of the following boxes:
- Your entry into the United States was legal: When you first came into the country, you must have entered legally. This means that you obtained a visa and stayed within the country for a legal amount of time before deciding to become a citizen.
- You must have lived in the country for five years: Similar to the requirement above, you should have also lived in the country for five years. Or, sometimes, while living legally in the country, you must have been present for at least fifty percent of the time.
- You are of the proper age: The minimum age to become a naturalized citizen is 18. So, as long as you’re 18 years of age, you can become a naturalized citizen.
- You are capable of speaking the language: When becoming a citizen of the U.S., you will need to be able to speak, understand, read and write in English. Along with knowing the language, you will be expected to take an exam covering tops in U.S. politics and history, known as the civics exam.
- You must have good moral character: While living legally in the U.S., you should have a clean record. Proving that you haven’t broken any laws, and have done all you should have, will be a great thing to have in your favor.
What Are the Benefits of Becoming a Naturalized Citizen?
Becoming a citizen of the United States can bring various benefits to those who obtain this opportunity. Ultimately, naturalization citizens will enjoy most rights that citizens have of the country. The benefits of beckoning a naturalized citizen include:
- Voting rights: As a citizen of the United States, you will be able to vote in elections.
- Hold public office if one wishes: A benefit naturalized citizens enjoy is the ability to hold public office. This means you can serve in most public offices, with a limit of higher-ranking official spots.
- Freedom to travel: Having a U.S. passport will allow you to travel in and out of the country more easily. Additionally, you will be able to visit almost every country you can imagine. Plus, when traveling abroad as a naturalized citizen, you will receive all the protections that a born citizen would.
- Extending citizenship to any children, you may have: A huge bonus of becoming a naturalized citizen includes the ability for your children to also receive citizenship while under the age of 18.
Steps To Become a Naturalized Citizen
As with any visa, there are various steps one must follow to obtain the necessary visa. When it comes to being a naturalized citizen, nothing changes. You should become aware of numerous steps when it comes time to adjust your status.
Becoming a naturalized citizen is a great idea for most on the proper visa, and by following the steps we will list below, you will have a good chance at becoming a naturalized citizen.
Submit the Form
For starters, you must first prepare Form N-400. This form, which is also known as your application for naturalization, can be found online. You must read the form over and then fill in all the information that is asked.
When filling out this form, you should ensure that all information you have provided is accurate.
Pay the Required Fees
You will also need to pay the required fees, which we will explain more in detail below. The total amount that must be paid after filling out the application is $725.
After completing the application and paying the necessary fees, you will receive a notice from USCIS to schedule a biometric fingerprint appointment. This appointment will seek to obtain your fingerprints for future use if your application gets approved.
Once you have scheduled your appointment, it’s best to arrive early when the time comes.
Schedule the Interview
Following these tasks, USCIS will then schedule an official interview appointment for naturalization. This appointment will be made at the nearest consulate, embassy, or USCIS office to where you are located.
In this interview, you will take a U.S. citizenship test that is composed of two parts; the English exam and the Civics exam. The English exam is an exam to test proficiency in your English speaking, writing, and reading skills. Additionally, your English comprehension will be looked at.
Once this portion of the exam is completed, you can move on to the next part of the test, which is the civics portion of the exam. Here, you will be asked 20 questions about United States history or government and must answer at least 12 of the 20 questions correctly to pass.
Receive a Final Decision
Directly following your official interview, USCIS will decide whether or not your application should be approved or denied. They will mail you a notice of their decision and update the online portal if you applied via this method.
The three options include:
- Approval: If you are eligible for naturalization and follow the steps listed above, you will be approved for citizenship rights.
- Continued: If you receive this decision, you may need to provide further information and evidence with your application. You can also receive this outcome if you don’t pass the English portion of the exam or the civics exam.
- Denial: When your application is deemed incorrect or ineligible for naturalization, you will receive a denial. And the fees you have paid will not be refunded.
Take the Oath of Allegiance
If you have received approval, your next step will be to attend a ceremony and take your oath of allegiance. After getting your application approved, you will receive a notice in the mail or online about attending a naturalization ceremony.
When this occurs, you must fill out Form N-445, a questionnaire, and attend the ceremony. You should bring this form with you so your USCIS officer can check it. Additionally, you must turn your permanent resident card in at this time.
Finally, you will take an oath of allegiance to become a U.S. citizen and receive your naturalization certificate.
Sometimes, this ceremony will take place directly following your interview. If approved quickly and without a doubt, you can attend a ceremony on the spot and receive all you need immediately.
How Much Does It Cost To Become a Naturalized Citizen?
Currently, the cost of naturalization comes to a total of $725. Broken down, the application fee and processing fee are $640, and the additional biometric exam fee is $85. And regardless of the outcome, once this fee is paid, it’s nonrefundable.
This total payment can be made by the following methods:
- Money order
- A personal check
- A cashiers check
- Credit card
- Debit card
When paying for your application, you must pay the total amount in one of the previously listed ways. If you can’t afford the price for your application, you can submit a reduction or waiver to USCIS.
How Hard Is It To Become a Naturalized Citizen?
After reading this article, the process may seem quite simple and straightforward. And sure, at times, some steps can be easy, and the overall process may be straightforward. However, the naturalization process is very difficult.
For starters, the processing time for applications and interviews is very long, and financial burdens are massive. Additionally, some of the steps may be hard to understand, and as an immigrant, you may be unable to provide what is needed.
How Long Does It Take to Naturalize as a U.S. Citizen?
Once you have successfully completed all the steps to become a naturalized citizen of the United States, you must wait for your application to be processed. N-400 processing times will vary based on the backlog of applications, how many total applications there are, and your overall situation.
In most cases, from start to finish, the typical processing time can be anywhere from 14 months to 16 months.
What Can a Naturalized Citizen Not Do?
Similar to what we stated in previous sections, there are countless benefits to becoming a U.S. citizen. And one benefit includes holding positions in office. However, there is a caveat to these benefits. As a naturalized citizen, you cannot hold the office of Vice-President or President because these are only open to U.S.-born citizens.
Other than that, you can do all that a U.S.-born citizen can do. But, it’s important to note that these rights can be stripped from you if you decide to seek other countries’ citizenship or enlist in a foreign military tour.
Naturalized Citizen FAQs
Can Naturalized Citizens Be Deported?
In almost all cases, a naturalized U.S. citizen cannot be deported. If a naturalized citizen commits a crime while in the country, they will be punished to American standards. Additionally, if a citizen commits a crime while abroad, the government would do everything in its power to bring the individual back to the country and punish them under U.S. law.
If a naturalized citizen has their citizenship stripped by the government for any reason at all, they can, at this point, be deported. However, removal would take time and can be appealed.
Can You Lose Your Naturalized Citizenship?
There are a few ways in which you can lose your naturalized citizenship. For starters, you can give up your citizenship willingly or renounce it. However, this rarely ever happens. Apart from this, there are only specific cases where you can lose your citizenship.
Some of these specific cases include:
1. Running for public office in another country outside of the United States
2. Entering another country for military service
3. Applying for citizenship in another country and are going to willingly give up U.S. citizenship as a result,
4. Committing treasonous actions against the United States
Are You Ready To Become a Naturalized Citizen? Begin The Process Today!
If you are ready to start the naturalization process, it’s in your best interest to do so as soon as possible. Even though the process is time-consuming and costs a lot of money, the outcome and benefits of U.S. citizenship are unmatched.
If you don’t know where to begin or wish to have support throughout this process, ImmigrationDirect has the solutions for you. Contact us to make full use of our high-end immigration software.
We are always here to help you and want nothing more than to see you reap the benefits of being a United States citizen. Join us in the land of the free by starting your path toward naturalized citizenship today!