How Does the Naturalization Process Work?

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How Does the Naturalization Process Work?

Naturalization is a legal process a foreign citizen must undergo in order to become a citizen of the United States. It is a lengthy and sometimes arduous process that involves many steps, each of which the applicant must take extremely seriously. Just one small mistake in the process could stop the entire thing and prevent those applying from becoming citizens. Due to this, if you wish to apply for naturalization, you should speak to a Chicago immigration lawyer who can help you every step of the way.

Eligibility Requirements

Anyone who wishes to apply for citizenship into the U.S. must meet some eligibility requirements. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) says that naturalization applicants must:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Have been a lawful and permanent resident of the U.S. for at least five years before applying for naturalization
  • Have been physically present in the U.S. for at least five years before applying
  • Speak and understand English
  • Have good moral character

While these requirements sound fairly straightforward, they too can become complicated. For example, there are exceptions to the residency requirements that an immigration attorney can explain in further detail.

The Application Process

The first step in applying for naturalization once you have met the eligibility requirements is to complete the application form, also known as Form N-400. Along with this completed form, you will also need to include two photographs that meet USCIS requirements and a  photocopy of your Permanent Resident card.

Depending on your situation, the USCIS may also require other documents, such as the birth certificates of children or any documents pertaining to marriage. Again, an attorney will understand what documents are needed and will ensure they are included with your application.

Residing in the country for at least five years is an eligibility requirement for naturalization. However, it is just as important that you continue residing in the United States after filing your application for naturalization.

Next Steps

After filing your application, the USCIS will send you a letter with instructions on how to get fingerprinted. This is a step the USCIS takes to prevent fraud. The letter will contain an appointment time, the service center you need to visit to get your fingerprints taken, and any additional documents they need.

Perhaps the step applicants are most worried about is the interview and test, which will occur shortly after you have had your fingerprints taken. Again, the USCIS will send instructions including an appointment time for your interview and the local office you must visit. Bring identification with you and be prepared to answer questions about your application and your background.

During the interview, you are also required to take an English and civic test. This test will include questions about how the government is run, the Constitution, and basic American history.

After completing the interview, tests, and other application requirements, you will receive a decision about your naturalization. If you are approved by the USCIS, you will receive a date for your ceremony. During this ceremony, you will take the Oath of Allegiance and officially become an American citizen.

Speak to a Chicago Immigration Attorney for Help with the Naturalization Process

The naturalization process is a long one and requires careful preparation at each stage. If you are interested in becoming a citizen of the United States, you need to speak with an Illinois immigration attorney that can help.

At Kriezelman, Burton, & Associates, we are passionate about helping people become American citizens. We know what an exciting time this is, but we are also aware that one slight misstep can affect a person’s chances. We do not want that to happen to you. Call us today at (312) 332-2550 or fill out our online form to schedule a consultation. We know the ever-changing immigration laws and we want to put that knowledge to work for you. Contact us today so we can begin reviewing your case.

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