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How to become a citizen of the United States: Naturalization process for citizenship


What is Naturalization?

Naturalization is the process by which U.S. citizenship is granted to a foreign citizen after he has complied with the requirements established by the United States Congress in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

What is the process to become a citizen of the United States?

To become a citizen, the applicant must:

  • Meet the requirements to apply for citizenship;

  • Complete and send an application to the Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS);

  • Show up for the required appointment to take the fingerprints;

  • Attend an interview and pass an English and civic exam; and

  • If he successfully completes the previous steps, the applicant is summoned to a swearing ceremony and receives his naturalization certificate, thus becoming an American citizen.

What are the necessary requirements to apply for Naturalization?

  • Have been a permanent resident for at least 5 or 3 years if you are married to an American citizen;

  • Be at least 18 years old;

  • Prove physical presence in the country for at least half as long as a resident;

  • Read, write and speak basic English;

  • Have good moral behavior and not have committed certain crimes.

Is there any exception to not taking the exam in English?

A person can take the exam in his native language if he is a cupletist with the following:

  • You are 50 years of age or older and 20 years old as a permanent resident.

  • You are 55 years of age or older and 15 years old as a permanent resident.

  • If the person is 65 years of age or older and has been a permanent resident for a minimum of 20 years, they can take a simplified exam in their native language.

What are the benefits of becoming an American citizen?

  • Right to vote. Only citizens have the right to vote in the federal elections.

  • Carry an American passport. The United States protects its citizens abroad through its embassies and consulates. In addition, a visa is not required to travel to many countries around the world.

  • Not being deported. Generally, naturalized citizens cannot be deported for crimes committed after obtaining citizenship.

  • Access to more jobs. Only citizens can get work in certain government agencies.

  • Participation in a jury. This is one of the most important civic activities of a citizen. A jury determines the innocence or guilt of an accused.

  • It has no time constraints to be out of the country.

  • Access to more student scholarships. Some scholarships are only available to citizens.

  • Immigration of relatives. Certain categories of relatives of American citizens have the priority to immigrate to the United States.

*Keep in mind that the citizenship application is a complex process where immigration officers will thoroughly verify both your immigration history and your criminal record. Therefore, it is very important that you have the advice of a lawyer before submitting your application. The lawyer will evaluate your case and determine if, in your particular case, there is a risk of being put in deportation and losing legal residence.

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