The process of naturalization is the most common path for people who were not born as citizens of the United States to gain US citizenship. Completing the application for naturalization (or USCIS form N-400) and successfully demonstrating that you meet all the eligibility requirements can be time-consuming and complex, and the process is likely to go more smoothly if you’re working with an experienced immigration attorney.
Application For Naturalization Overview
Once you’ve reviewed and believe that you meet the eligibility criteria for naturalization, the process begins with filing your application and ends, in the best case, with you swearing the Oath of Allegiance and receiving your Certificate of Naturalization. The length of time needed for the entire process depends on your particular case and on the caseload of the service center you’re working through. Currently, USCIS estimates an average of 6 months, from the date your application is filed, though that time can vary significantly.
- Application – If you are at least 18 years old and have been a legal permanent resident for at least five years (three years if you are married to a US citizen), and you meet other eligibility requirements, like a clean criminal background check, and successful scores on the English language and citizenship testing you may qualify for naturalization. After you submit your USC IS form N-400 and the required documentation to support your application, you’ll be able to get an estimate of processing time and status of your application online.
- Biometrics – After your application is reviewed and found complete, you’ll get a notice advising you of an appointment for biometrics. This is when you will be photographed and fingerprinted and will consent to an FBI criminal background investigation.
- Interview & Testing – Once your biometrics have been successfully processed, USCIS will schedule you for your naturalization interview, English language testing and civics test.
- Oath Ceremony – The final step in the process is attending a ceremony to swear the Oath of Allegiance and receive your Certificate of Naturalization. When those two things are done, you are immediately recognized as a US citizen.
If you have ever been arrested or convicted of any crime you should consult an attorney before filing an application for naturalization. Even if there is no conviction, arrests and certain conduct can pose serious issues for applicants. Other factors that may impact the success of your naturalization case may include divorce, failure to disclose important information such as children during the green card application process, physical presence requirements or issues relating to green card abandonment.
An Experienced Immigration Attorney Can Smooth The Way
If you’re getting ready to apply for naturalization, or your application has been denied and you need help moving forward, the immigration attorneys at the Kissimmee Law Firm of Overstreet, Miles, Cumbie & Finkenbinder will work with you to get your application file properly. Contact us for a confidential consultation and we’ll give you a clear picture of how we can help.