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What You Need to Know to Become an American Citizen

The immigration laws in the United States are extremely complicated. They are subject to change almost on a daily basis, and the federal government and other agencies establish regulations. A minor blunder might put your ambitions of becoming a U.S. citizen on hold.

In this article, we’ll walk you through the process of becoming a citizen, such as how to apply as well as what the process entails. 

American Citizenship through Naturalization process

There are two methods to become a citizen of the United States. One is through operation of law, in this case you are granted citizenship without having to do anything. People born in the United States, for example, are automatically granted citizenship. And the other is Naturalization. This procedure entails submitting an application and demonstrating your eligibility to become a citizen of the United States. It is the process through which a non-American citizen will become a U.S. citizen on their own will. 

American citizens owe the US their allegiance, are entitled to its protection, and must make use of their rights and obligations as citizens.

Being a US citizen

 how to become an American citizenTo be a citizen of the United States, you must have a Green Card, often called the Permanent Resident Card, for at least five years, or three years if filing as a spouse of an American citizen. If your Permanent Resident Card will run out of its validity within six months of your application or if your card already has expired, you should renew it first before applying for citizenship.

Before receiving your new Green Card, you may apply for naturalization. However, when you receive your Form I-90, “Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card”, you must send a photocopy of the receipt.

Moreover, you must also meet the requirements for eligibility. It’s likely that you’ll need to meet the following criteria:

  • You should be at least 18 years old at the time of application;
  • You must have basic English reading, writing, and speaking skills;
  • You must be a morally upright person.

To achieve that citizenship, follow the 10-step naturalization process, which involves (a) determining whether or not you are eligible to become a citizen of the United States, (b) filling out form N-400 – the naturalization application – and registering for a free account to send your form online, (c) passing the U.S. Naturalization Exam, and (d) having a face-to-face interview.

10-step Naturalization Process

A general overview of the naturalization application procedure can be found in this section. Make sure you match all eligibility standards before applying and see if you’re qualified for any exceptions or accommodations.

Step 1: Check to see if you already are a citizen of the United States.

Proceed to the next step if you are not a U.S. citizen by birth or did not automatically obtain or inherit U.S. citizenship from your parent(s) at birth.

Step 2: Find out if you’re qualified to become a citizen of the United States.

To determine if you are qualified to apply for naturalization, find and examine a naturalization eligibility worksheet.

Step 3: Fill out Form N-400, Naturalization Application.

This form can be submitted online. To complete Form N-400, read the instructions carefully. Gather the documentation you’ll need to prove your naturalization eligibility. Get two passport-style photos taken if you live outside of the United States. Make sure you have all of the essential paperwork by using a document checklist.

Step 4: Submit Form N-400 and pay the fees.

You will submit this form online, as well as pay your fees. USCIS will email you a receipt notice once you submit Form N-400. 

Step 5: Attend your biometrics appointment.

If you need to undergo biometrics, USCIS will email you an appointment notice with the date, time, and location of your biometrics appointment. Make sure to show up on the designated schedule for you to get your biometrics taken.

Step 6: Finish the interview.

USCIS will arrange an interview for you to finish the naturalization process once all of the preliminary steps on your application are completed. You must appear in person at the USCIS office on the date and hour specified on your appointment notice. 

Step 7: USCIS will issue a decision on your Form N-400.

You will receive a notice of decision from USCIS. If you submit your Form N-400 online, you can also access the notice sent into your account. Their decision could be:

  • Granted – If the information in your record demonstrates that you’re qualified for naturalization, USCIS may accept your Form N-400.
  • Continued – USCIS may still continue your application, if you need to give further evidence or documentation, if you missed providing the necessary documents, or fail the English and/or civics exam the very first time.
  • Denied – If the information in your record demonstrates that you’re not eligible for naturalization, USCIS will reject your Form N-400. 

Step 8: You will be given the notice to take the Oath of Allegiance.

If your Form N-400 was accepted by USCIS in step 7, you could be eligible to attend a naturalization ceremony the same day as your interview. If a same-day ceremony isn’t available, USCIS will send you a letter with the location, time, and date of your scheduled ceremony. You could also view the online notice in your N-400 application, if you filed it online.

Step 9: Recite the United States’ Oath of Allegiance.

Unless you take the Oath of Allegiance at the naturalization ceremony, you are not yet a US citizen.

Step 10: Understanding citizenship in the United States.

Citizenship is the link that binds all Americans together. Check the list of the most fundamental rights and obligations that all citizens should practice, honor, and respect, whether they are citizens by birth or choice.

Citizenship and Naturalization Certificates are proof of your citizenship

When foreign nationals become citizens of the US, they obtain a Certificate of Naturalization.

If you were born abroad to US citizen parents and your parents did not obtain a Consular Report of Birth Abroad before you reached 18, you can apply for a Certificate of Citizenship. 

If you already got one but it was unfortunately stolen or lost, replace it as soon as possible using Form N-565.

Dual Citizenship

A person can have dual citizenship if they are citizens of both the United States and another country. Fortunately, an individual is not required by U.S. law to choose between two citizenships. 

If you are a citizen of another nation, contact the embassy or consulate of that country for information on its laws, regulations, and mandatory military services.

Even without a birth certificate, you can become a citizen.

If you were born in the United States but don’t have a proper record, you’ll need a variety of documentation proving your citizenship, such as:

  • Letter from a vital records department in your birth state, with details of you name and the years they looked up for you certificate.
  • Letter from a vital records department stating that no record exists. To verify your birth in the US, you’ll also need secondary proof of citizenship.

If you were born outside the U.S. and your American parent(s) did not register your birth in the US Embassy, you may be eligible for benefits. You can apply for a US passport at an embassy or consulate, but you’ll need the following:

  • Your birth certificate from your country, including the names of your parents.
  • Proof of your parents’ U.S. citizenship.
  • The marriage certificate of your parents.

The U.S. Department of State (DOS) can assist you in obtaining a duplicate of a Consular Report of Birth Abroad (Form FS-240) if you were born outside the United States and your American parent(s) registered your birth with the U.S. Embassy.

Start your journey today!

The Naturalization Citizenship process could be stressful, and you will have to be diligent in following the steps and deadlines. Getting an experienced immigration lawyer to guide you through the immigration process will ease your worries and ensure a smoother experience for you.

Our St. Charles immigration lawyer can assist you in realizing your ambition of becoming a U.S. citizen. Don’t miss out on the advantages of being an American citizen. Consult with our Missouri immigration law office right away to get the legal advice you need

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