Naturalized U.S. Citizen

Pro-Tips to Successfully Become a Naturalized U.S. Citizen

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Becoming a naturalized citizen in the United States is challenging but ultimately rewarding. Many still chase that American dream, and people believe that becoming a citizen opens doors to many new opportunities and solidifies one’s place within society. There will be about 878,500 new citizens in 2023, according to USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services). However, not everyone applying will be given that precious green card.

Earning a U.S. citizenship is an exciting journey to embark on, but failing can also be equally devastating. Thus, it is essential to understand the entire process of naturalization. Doing so will ensure you do every step correctly to avoid significant delays or having your application denied altogether. We’ll give you tips and guidance on navigating the naturalization process confidently and smoothly. 

Understanding the Naturalization Process

If you are an immigrant in the United States and have lived there for quite some time, you may be eligible to become a naturalized citizen. An important thing to note is that not all immigrants can be granted citizenship. Eligible individuals include those who have been green card holders for three to five years or those who meet military service requirements.

Becoming a naturalized citizen of the United States has many advantages. However, the process can get complicated, and waiting time is sometimes lengthy. The timeline for the entire process is about nine months from when you apply to when you take the Oath of Allegiance. 

Like applying for a visa, there is also a fee to pay when applying for citizenship. The current fee for a naturalization application is $845, including the payment of $760 for processing and a biometric services fee of $85. There is no filing and biometrics fee for applicants belonging to the military category. Individuals aged 75 and older are also exempt from the biometrics fee. If you submit your application online, USCIS will give you a $50 discount. 

Requirements for Naturalization

In addition to being a resident for three to five years, you must fulfill other requirements if you want to be naturalized. First, you must be 18 years old and have not taken any trips outside the United States for six months or longer during the last three or five years before applying. You must have been residing in the state where you’re applying for citizenship for at least three months.

One of the requirements is having good moral character. The broad definition is that an individual’s character must measure up to the standards of the citizens in the community. Specifically, this means that one should not have committed any crime. It is also essential to be honest and transparent about your application. Intentionally lying to the government to have a favorable chance for immigration is considered a crime.

During the naturalization process, you must also pass a two-part test. The first is an English language test, including exams that check your reading, speaking, and writing skills. The second part is a civics test – an exam that covers the applicant’s knowledge of the history and government of the United States.

An individual applying for naturalization must also be prepared to serve in the armed forces or perform civilian services. Male applicants who are between 18 and 25 are required to register with the Selective Service System. You must also be willing to defend the U.S. Constitution, regardless of if you are male or female. 

Tips for Applying for Naturalization in the United States

Becoming a citizen in any country signifies belonging and opens doors to many new opportunities. The process, albeit complex, can be navigated with ease and confidence. Here are some tips to ensure you have a smooth application experience:

  • Read and stock up on knowledge about U.S. citizenship. Many resources are available online to learn more about the naturalization process and the factors involved in U.S. immigration. Aside from reading blogs or watching videos about other people’s previous immigration experiences, you can also explore reliable resources like the USCIS website. 
  • Check your eligibility. Since applying for naturalization involves fees, it is better to check if you are eligible to apply. There is an immigration law that states criteria for citizenship and naturalization. You must be a lawful resident of the country for at least five years, be at least 18 years old, and have no criminal records. 
  • Anticipate the waiting time. Naturalization is a lengthy process, and since the government only gives out a certain number of citizenships, you should expect some waiting time for the result. The average waiting period is eight months, but it can take longer.
  • Start preparing for the next steps. After filing your Form N-400, you should start preparing for the succeeding steps. For example, you can prepare for the two-part exam and interview. If you come prepared for these, you lessen your stress when the day comes. 
  • Seek professional help. If you need help with what to do before, during, or after applying, it’s better to get expert advice. Immigration lawyers can help you petition for a change in immigration status. They will help you file the application, prepare the required documents, and provide guidance for the exams and interview.

Naturalization Application – Is It Worth It?

Applying for U.S. citizenship takes a lot of perseverance. However, there are a lot of benefits to being a permanent citizen if you’ve been living in the United States for a long time anyway. You will have voting rights, have a strong passport that makes traveling easy, get Federal benefits, and increase your earning potential. 

You’ll also gain the right to sponsor or petition family living outside the U.S. so you can start building a life together. Ultimately, however, the decision still depends on your circumstances and goals. If you plan to live in the country permanently and think the given benefits are valuable to you, then naturalization will be a worthwhile pursuit.

Also Read: Benefits of Dual Citizenship for Global Citizens: Insights from the Global Residence Index



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