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How to naturalize and become a U.S. Citizen – 10 steps

Becoming a citizen through naturalization is a process in which a non-U.S. citizen voluntarily becomes an American citizen. Being a U.S. citizenship can provide you many opportunities as a resident of the United States.

Among these are access to a U.S. passport, the right to vote in public elections, and protection from deportation. U.S. citizens owe their allegiance to the United States and are entitled to its protection and to exercise their rights and responsibilities as citizens.

U.S. passport holders can travel to 163 countries without visas according to Passport Index Global Passport Power Ranking.

To become a U.S. citizen, you must:

Have had a Permanent Resident (Green) Card for at least five years, or for at least three years if you’re filing as the spouse of a U.S. citizen.

If you apply for naturalization less than six months before your Permanent Resident Card expires, or do not apply for naturalization until your card has already expired, you must renew your card.

You can apply for naturalization before you receive your new Green Card, but you’ll need to submit a photocopy of the receipt of your Form I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card, when you receive it.

Meet certain eligibility requirements including being:

  • At least 18 years old at the time of filing
  • Able to read, write, and speak basic English
  • A person of good moral character

steps to follow:

Step 1. Determine if you are already a U.S. citizen.

What to do: If you are not a U.S. citizen by birth, or you did not acquire or derive U.S. citizenship from your parent(s) automatically after birth, go to the next step.

Step 2. Determine if you are eligible to become a U.S. citizen.

What to do: Review the naturalization eligibility worksheet (PDF, 301 KB) to help you decide if you are eligible to apply for naturalization.

Step 3. Prepare your Form N-400, Application for Naturalization.

What to do: Download the form and read the instructions. Collect the necessary documents to demonstrate your eligibility for naturalization. If you reside outside the United States, get 2 passport-style photo taken. Use the document checklist (PDF, 178 KB) to make sure you collect all the required documents.

Step 4. Submit your Form N-400, Application for Naturalization.

Once you submit Form N-400, USCIS will send you a receipt notice. You can check current processing times and the status of your application online or by calling the USCIS Contact Center at 1-800-375-5283 or 1-800-767-1833 (hearing impaired).

Step 5. Go to the biometrics appointment, if applicable.

What to do: If you need to take biometrics, USCIS will send you an appointment notice that includes your biometrics appointment date, time, and location. Arrive at the designated location at the scheduled time. Have your biometrics taken.

Step 6. Complete the interview.

Once all the preliminary processes on your case are complete, USCIS will schedule an interview with you to complete the naturalization process. You must report to the USCIS office at the date and time on your appointment notice. Please bring the appointment notice with you.

Step 7. Receive a decision from USCIS on your Form N-400, Application for Naturalization.

USCIS will issue you a written notice of decision.

  • Granted—USCIS may approve your Form N-400 if the evidence in your record establishes that you are eligible for naturalization.
  • Continued—USCIS may continue your application if you need to provide additional evidence/documentation, fail to provide USCIS the correct documents, or fail the English and/or civics test the first time.
  • Denied—USCIS will deny your Form N-400 if the evidence in your record establishes you are not eligible for naturalization.
Step 8. Receive a notice to take the Oath of Allegiance.

What to expect: If USCIS approved your Form N-400 in step 7, you may be able to participate in a naturalization ceremony on the same day as your interview. If a same day naturalization ceremony is unavailable, USCIS will mail you a notification with the date, time, and location of your scheduled ceremony.

Step 9. Take the Oath of Allegiance to the United States.

You are not a U.S. citizen until you take the Oath of Allegiance at a naturalization ceremony.

What to do: Complete the questionnaire on Form N-445, Notice of Naturalization Oath Ceremony. Report for your naturalization ceremony and check in with USCIS. A USCIS officer will review your responses to Form N-445. Turn in your Permanent Resident Card (Green Card).

Take the Oath of Allegiance to become a U.S. citizen. Receive your Certificate of Naturalization, review it, and notify USCIS of any errors you see on your certificate before leaving the ceremony site.

Step 10. Understanding U.S. citizenship.

Citizenship is the common thread that connects all Americans. Check out this listof some of the most important rights and responsibilities that all citizens—both Americans by birth and by choice—should exercise, honor, and respect.

To learn more visit the U.S. government Citizenship Through Naturalization website.

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