What is the Naturalization Process in the United States?

Naturalization is the process whereby a foreign national becomes a U.S. citizen. A naturalized citizen is what you call a person who goes through the naturalization process.

To be eligible for naturalization, an applicant must meet some requirements established by Congress in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). There are plenty of immigration law firms that can help give you information on this process.

An applicant for naturalization must:

  • Be a lawful permanent resident (green card holder) for at least five years;
  • Be able to read, write, and speak English;
  • Have a basic understanding of U.S. history and government; and
  • Pass a naturalization test.

The Process Of Becoming A U.S. Citizen Generally Includes The Following Steps

  1. Applying for citizenship with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
  2. Take a civics test. That is to demonstrate your knowledge of U.S. history and government.
  3. Attending an interview with a USCIS officer.
  4. Swearing an oath of allegiance to the United States.

If you meet all of the eligibility requirements, you will be granted citizenship and will be able to enjoy all the rights and responsibilities that come with it! You don’t need to worry after passing the requirements on time.

Are You Eligible For Naturalization?

Various factors can affect your eligibility for naturalization. The requirements listed above are general, and you may have additional requirements depending on your circumstances.

Before you apply for naturalization, ensure that you are at least eligible. There is no sense applying if you won’t meet all the requirements. It will save you time to check now and avoid any disappointment down the road. 

The naturalization process can be long and complicated, but by careful preparation and attention to detail.

To find out if you’re eligible for naturalization, you can:

  • Consult an experienced immigration attorney;
  • Use USCIS’s online resources to self-assess your eligibility; or
  • Schedule an appointment with a USCIS office to have an officer assess your eligibility.

What Are The Benefits Of Naturalization?

There are many benefits to becoming a U.S. citizen, such as:

  • The  right to vote in federal, state, and local elections;
  • The  ability to run for elected office;
  • The  ability to apply for federal jobs;
  • The ability to travel with a U.S. passport; and
  • Eligibility for certain social welfare benefits.

For more information, you can also consult with an immigration attorney. They can help give clarification on which benefits will affect you in your application. Try to set up a consultation beforehand to prepare.

How Long Should You Wait When Applying For Naturalization?

The wait time for naturalization may vary depending on your case. Generally, however, you should expect to wait at least six months after filing your application before they call you for an interview.

Some people wait from 18 to 24 months for their interview, so be patient! It is only an average calculation of time, and your particular case could be processed much faster or take a bit longer.

Wait until you have met all the eligibility requirements and have attended your interview. They will decide on your application within a few months. 

If your application is approved, you will be scheduled for a ceremony to take the oath of allegiance and receive your certificate of naturalization. You could also ask local immigration lawyers for advice on legal matters.

Will Applying For Naturalization Cost Much?

The application fee for naturalization is $725.00. There are fee waivers available if you cannot afford to pay the application fee. you can ask  for a fee waiver if you meet the following requirements:

  • You receive or are eligible to receive federal public benefits;
  • Your household income is at or below 150% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines; or
  • You are a member of a U.S. military service branch on active duty.

Fee waivers are also available for certain other applicants, such as refugees, asylees, and victims of human trafficking. A lot of immigration attorneys can give you a breakdown of details on naturalization process costs.

What If My Application For Naturalization Gets Denied?

If your application for naturalization gets denied, you will receive a written notice from USCIS that explains the reasons for the denial. You may then reapply for citizenship if you believe you meet all the requirements. You may also file an appeal if you feel that the denial was improper.

The process of reapplying or filing an appeal can be complex, so it is essential to seek legal assistance if you need it. An experienced immigration attorney can help guide you through the process and represent your interests before USCIS.

Are You Planning To Hire An Immigration Lawyer?

It can help if you find an immigration attorney who is familiar with the naturalization process and can help you navigate the complexities of the law. 

Since the naturalization process can be lengthy, it may be helpful to have an attorney who can provide guidance and support throughout the process.

The costs of hiring an attorney vary depending on their experience and location, but you can expect to pay several hundred to several thousand dollars for their services.

If you can’t afford to hire an attorney, you may be able to find one who will represent you pro bono (for free) or at a reduced rate. You can search for pro bono attorneys through the American Immigration Lawyers Association or your local bar association.

What To Look For In An Immigration Lawyer

When looking for an immigration lawyer to help with your naturalization application, it is vital to consider the following factors:

  • Experience: Make sure that the lawyer you choose has experience handling naturalization cases. 
  • Location: If you live in a rural area, you may want to find an immigration lawyer who practices near you.  
  • Costs: The cost of hiring an immigration lawyer can vary depending on their experience and location. You may be able to find an attorney who will represent you pro bono or at a reduced rate. 
  • References: Ask the lawyer for references from past clients who have gone through the naturalization process. 
  • Languages: Make sure the lawyer you choose can speak English and your native language, if necessary.

Exceptions For Taking The Naturalization Process 

There are a few exceptions to the requirement that naturalization applicants take the oath of allegiance in English. If you are unable or unwilling to take the oath in English, you may take it in another language. 

You may also take the civics test in a language other than English. If you can’t take the test in English, you may be able to have a translator present. However, all applicants must still pass the English and civics tests to become naturalized citizens.

  • There are also exceptions based on disabilities. If you have a physical or mental disability that prevents you from taking the oath of allegiance. 
  • You might also face exemption when the disability prevents you from understanding the civics test questions. In this situation, you may still be able to become a naturalized citizen. 
  • You will need to provide evidence of your disability to USCIS and request special accommodations.
  • You can also face exemption from the process after participating in military services. If you are a member of the U.S. armed forces or when you have served in capacities for the U.S. government, you may be eligible for a streamlined naturalization process. 

USCIS also offers an expedited naturalization process for certain applicants, such as those married to U.S. citizens or who served in the U.S. military. The naturalization process can be complex, so it is crucial to seek legal assistance if you need it.

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