Naturalization is the immigration process through which a foreign national becomes a citizen. To become a U.S. citizen, a foreign must first get a Green Card.
Becoming a Green Card Holder
Citizenship begins with permanent residency.
Permanent residency can be obtained through a few methods; however, the most common are through a U.S. citizen or permanent resident family member or through a job offer with an U.S. company.
The family member or employer must petition for the foreign national. Petitioning means filing an application on the behalf of the foreign national.
Once the petition is approved, the foreign national applies for U.S. permanent residency at the U.S. embassy in their home country. Some foreign nationals who are already in the U.S. are allowed to do Adjustment of Status without having to leave the country.
When permanent residency is approved, a Green Card is issued to the foreign national.
Becoming a Naturalized Citizen
If a person is a U.S. permanent resident for at least 5 years, he or she is made eligible to apply for naturalization. The following are the naturalized citizenship requirements:
- An applicant for citizenship must be 18 years or older at the moment of filing for citizenship
- An applicant for citizenship must have been a permanent resident (Green Card holder) for 5 years. The requirement is 3 years for the wives of U.S. citizens and 1 year for military personnel.
- An applicant for citizenship must have lived in the state in which the application is being filed for at least three months prior.
- An applicant must have had continuous residence in the U.S., which means not leaving the country for more than six months in the last 5 years prior to the date of filing application.
- An applicant must remain in the U.S. while the application is being processed.
- An applicant must be of good moral character.
- An applicant must read, write and speak English.
- An applicant must have knowledge of U.S. history and civics.
What is the Naturalization Process?
After Form N-400 has been approved, the applicant will get fingerprinted at a USCIS office. After that the applicant will receive a notice in the mail for a scheduled interview. During the interview, the applicant will need to answer questions about the application and take a test to prove knowledge of English and U.S. government. The applicant will receive a status on the case.
The applicant will then receive a notice for the naturalization ceremony during which the Green Card will be returned and the certificate of naturalization will be issued. The new citizen will also take the Oath of Allegiance:
“I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the armed forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God.”