Naturalization is the process where U.S. citizenship is given to a foreign citizen after they have fulfilled the requirements established by the Immigration and Nationality Act of INA. While the process may seem fairly straightforward, it is actually a very complex legal matter that should always be handed by an attorney.
Are You Eligible for Naturalization?
Before you can apply, you must meet strict requirements. An application for naturalization will automatically be denied if you do not meet the proper requirements, which include:
- You must be at least 18 years or older when you file.
- You must be a permanent resident (Green card) for a minimum of five years.
- You must be able to prove that you have lived for at least three months in the state or a specified USCIS district.
- You must be able to prove that you have had continuous residency in the U.S. for a minimum of 5 years or at least 30 months of those 5 years.
- You must be able to read, speak, and write basic English.
- You must have an understanding of U.S. government and history and you will be tested on your knowledge.
- You must have a proven history of good moral character.
- You must demonstrate that you understand, relate, and will adhere to the principles stated in the U.S. Constitution.
Even if you meet the eligibility requirements, you could be denied for naturalization. There are a series of oral and written tests an individual must pass to be approved. These tests include:
You must prove your ability to speak fluent English as well as comprehend what others are saying to you in English. The USCIS Officer will determine how well you speak during your interview process.
During your test, you will be asked to read one out of three sentences, in English, aloud to demonstrate that you can read English.
Next, you must write one out of three sentences correctly, in English. The USCIS Officer will review the sentences to determine whether or not you have an understanding of the English language.
This is by far the most difficult and stressful test for those looking to naturalize. There are 100 questions on the civics test. During the initial interview, you will be asked up to ten questions from that list and you must answer six out of the ten correctly in order to pass.
What Happens if You Fail the Test?
You have two chances to take the English and civics examinations. If you fail you will be retested in the portion that you failed sixty to ninety days after the initial interview.
Even with all of the difficult requirements and tests, there are numerous benefits to naturalization, including:
- You can obtain a U.S. passport
- You no longer have to register, renew or worry about your green cards
- You can help sponsor family from other countries to come to the United States
- Unmarried children can move and join you in the U.S.
- You will be able to vote in the U.S. elections
- You can run for office
- You can apply for government jobs
- You are immune from deportation
Can I Have Dual Citizenship?
Dual citizenship means you remain a citizen of your original country as well as the U.S. While there are some instances where this is possible, some countries may not allow you to retain dual citizenship. Before you become a U.S. citizen, contact your country’s consulate and inquire about dual citizenship rules.
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