Applying for U.S. citizenship is an important milestone in the life of a legal permanent resident (LPR). The process can be both complicated and lengthy, with numerous requirements to meet in order to gain approval. While the specifics of how to apply for U.S. citizenship may vary slightly depending on individual circumstances, there are several general steps that all applicants should take in order to successfully complete the process.
Step One: Gather Necessary Documentation
The first step in applying for U.S. citizenship is to gather any necessary documentation that is required to submit a complete application package. Depending on individual circumstances, this may include proof of identity, such as a valid passport, birth certificate, or driver’s license; proof of residence, such as utility bills or leases; and proof of legal permanent residence status, such as a green card or Employment Authorization Document (EAD). Additional documents may be required to prove eligibility, such as marriage certificates, evidence of good moral character, or documents that demonstrate knowledge of U.S. civics and history.
Step Two: Complete the N-400 Application for Naturalization
The second step in applying for U.S. citizenship is to complete and submit form N-400, the Application for Naturalization, which is available on the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website. This form requires applicants to provide extensive information about themselves and their background, including place of birth, current address, marital history, education, military service (if applicable), tax information, and other pertinent details. The form must be accompanied by copies of all necessary supporting documents, such as those outlined in Step One above.
Step Three: Pay Filing Fees
In addition to completing and submitting the N-400 application form, applicants must pay all applicable filing fees in order for their application to be considered complete. These fees vary depending on individual circumstances but can range from $640 to $1,170 USD (as of 2021). It is important to note that filing fees are non-refundable even if an application is denied or ultimately withdrawn by the applicant.
Step Four: Attend a Biometrics Appointment
Once an application has been submitted and all applicable fees have been paid, applicants must attend a biometrics appointment where their fingerprints and photograph will be taken by USCIS staff. This appointment is mandatory and must be scheduled within the time period requested by USCIS or else the applicant’s application may be delayed or denied. It is important to note that biometrics appointments will not occur until after USCIS has accepted an application package as complete and ready for processing.
Step Five: Attend an Interview with USCIS
If an applicant’s application package is accepted as complete by USCIS, they will then receive notification that they must attend an interview with a USCIS officer at a local office. During this interview, the officer will review the applicant’s case and ask questions about their background and eligibility for citizenship. It is important that applicants prepare thoroughly before attending this interview in order to ensure that all relevant criteria are met and answered accurately during the discussion with the officer.
Step Six: Pass English and Civics Tests
If all goes well during the interview process, applicants will then be required to take two tests: an English test that assesses their ability to read, write, and speak basic English language skills; and a civics test that tests their knowledge of U.S. government, history, and laws. These tests are typically administered at the same time as the interview but can also be scheduled separately if necessary.
Step Seven: Receive Notice of U.S. Citizenship
If an applicant passes both tests with a satisfactory score as determined by USCIS officers, they will then receive notice that they have been granted U.S. citizenship status along with a naturalization certificate confirming their new status as a citizen of the United States of America. Congratulations! You are now officially part of America’s rich heritage!
Applying for U.S. citizenship is an exciting yet complex process that requires careful attention to detail in order to ensure success. By following these seven steps outlined above – from gathering necessary documentation to receiving notice of U.S. citizenship – legal permanent residents can confidently embark on this journey towards citizenship while being assured that they have taken all necessary steps towards achieving their goal!