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Steps to Becoming a Naturalized Citizen

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Steps to Becoming a Naturalized Citizen

Someone can become a United States citizen through birth, derivation through the naturalization of a parent, or through naturalization. Naturalizations are overseen by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). To apply for naturalization, you must be a minimum of 18 years of age and a Legal Permanent Resident (LPR or green card) in the U.S. for at least five years. 

It’s also beneficial to have representation from an experienced Illinois immigration attorney as you navigate this often complex process.

Step 1: Determine If Your United States Citizenship Status

If you aren’t currently a U.S. citizen, go to the next step.

Step 2: Determine Your Eligibility To Become A U.S. Citizen Through Naturalization

Study the naturalization eligibility worksheet to help you determine if you are eligible to apply for naturalization. This worksheet will ask questions about your:

  • Age
  • Marital status
  • Previous military service, if applicable,
  • Potential disabilities
  • Status in the United States
  • Ability to read and speak English
  • When you’ve been in and out of the United States
  • Moral character

Step 3: Complete Form N-400, The Application For Naturalization

This is an in-depth application with many sections and questions. An Illinois immigration attorney can help you with this tedious and tiring task, ensuring that it is accurately and completely filled out. You will also need to submit the required documents.

Step 4: Submit Your Completed Form N-400 And Pay The Applicable Fee

Currently, the government charges $725 to file your Form N-400, including $640 for processing and $85 for biometrics services. Take note that both are non-refundable whether the application is approved or denied. However, some applicants are eligible for a waiver or reduction of the fees.

Step 5: Attend Biometrics Appointment, If Required

USCIS will send you a notice that includes your biometrics appointment date, time, and location if you need biometrics. Be sure you arrive at the correct location at your scheduled time. Allow your biometrics to be taken. 

Step 6: Go To The Interview

Once all the preliminary processes are complete, USCIS will contact you to schedule an interview to complete the naturalization process. Once scheduled, you need to report to the appropriate USCIS office at the correct date and time. Don’t forget to bring your appointment notice with you.

Step 7: Obtain A Decision From Uscis On Your Form N-400

You will receive a notice of decision from the USCIS. If you filed your N-400 online, you will also be able to access the electronic notice through your account. The decision will be one of the following:

Granted—if the evidence in your record proves that you are eligible for U.S. naturalization.

Continued—USCIS may continue your application if you:

  • Are required to provide additional evidence/documentation
  • Fail to provide USCIS the correct documents
  • Fail your English and/or civics test the first time you take it

Denied— if the evidence in your record establishes you aren’t eligible for naturalization.

Step 8: Get A Notice To Take The Oath Of Allegiance

If your naturalization application is approved, you may be able to participate in a naturalization ceremony on the same day as your interview. Otherwise, you will receive a USCIS notification with the date, time, and location of your ceremony. If you filed your application online, you may also view the electronic notice in your application.

Step 9: Take The Oath Of Allegiance To The United States

You aren’t a United States citizen until you attend a naturalization ceremony and take the Oath of Allegiance. To do this, you must:

  • Fill out the questionnaire Notice of Naturalization Oath Ceremony on Form N-445
  • Show up at your naturalization ceremony and check in with a USCIS officer who will review your responses on your Form N-445.
  • Give the office your Permanent Resident Card (Green Card).
  • Take the Oath of Allegiance

You will then receive your Certificate of Naturalization. You should review it thoroughly and notify USCIS if there are any errors on the certificate before you leave the ceremony site.

Step 10: Understand Your U.S. Citizenship

It’s essential to understand the rights and responsibilities you now have as a naturalized American citizen. All U.S. citizens are connected by a common thread and should honor, respect, and exercise these rights and responsibilities. 

Call an Experienced Illinois Immigration Lawyer

If you have questions about the naturalization process or anything else concerning U.S. immigration, reach out to an Illinois immigration attorney at our firm. At Kriezelman Burton & Associates, we serve immigration clients in Chicago, Indiana, Wisconsin, and Michigan. Contact us for your no-obligation consultation.

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