Steps of the Naturalization Process to Become a U.S. Citizen
UNDERSTANDING THE STEPS OF THE NATURALIZATION PROCESS
The path to becoming a U.S. citizen can seem challenging to understand, but a Texas law firm experienced with immigration can walk you through the steps of the naturalization application process.
People worldwide seek the advantages and opportunities available to the average U.S. citizen. Regardless of why you want to become a citizen and which methods would work best for your situation, there are some common aspects that you might need to understand and address throughout the application process.
It’s important to realize that it takes most people more than a year to complete the process of becoming naturalized. There are several complicated steps that you must accomplish, and having a qualified naturalization & citizenship lawyer like Michael G. Murray, P.A., by your side can smooth the path forward.
What Are the Steps of the Naturalization Application?
There are two basic ways to become a U.S. citizen.
Either you are born in the United States, or you are a child born abroad of U.S. citizens, or you have to go through the process of naturalization. If you believe you may already be a citizen, you can request a Certificate of Citizenship.
If you have to go through the process to become naturalized, you will have to meet specific requirements. In most cases, you will first need to be granted the status of a lawful permanent resident.
Naturalization Process Timeline
Generally, the process of naturalization, from filing the application to attending the oath of allegiance ceremony, takes between 18.5 to 24 months. Each step of your application process takes specific time. Here is a rough estimate of how long it takes.
- Naturalization application processing (Form N-400) time: around 14.5 months on average.
- Biometrics appointment: zero additional month.
- Attending interview and exam of citizenship: 4 additional months.
- Receiving decision of your application: 0-4 additional months.
- Taking the Oath of Allegiance and receiving your Certificate of Naturalization: 0-1.5 additional months.
Hence, the total time it takes to process and approve your naturalization application is 18.5 to 24 months.
The current filing fee for the naturalization process in Texas by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services is $1,170. The applicant can pay the fee with a money order, cashier’s check, or a personal check payable to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. However, if you are filing from the USCIS Lockbox facility, you can pay by credit card using Form G-1450.
This total fee is a sum of the processing and biometrics fee, which is exempt for the applicants of age over 75, and military applicants are exempt from both.
A GUIDE TO U.S. NATURALIZATION PROCESS
A reputable Texas legal firm with experience in citizenship requirements can guide you through the U.S. naturalization process. The U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) breaks down the process into ten steps.
- Investigate heritage
- Determine naturalization eligibility
- Fill out a citizenship application
- Submit the naturalization application and supporting documents
- Get biometrics services
- Take the basic English and civics test and attend the citizenship interview
- Wait for any updates
- Attend the Oath of Allegiance and naturalization ceremony
- Take the Oath of Allegiance
- Obtain U.S. citizenship
After completing the process to become a U.S. citizen, you will have all of the rights and responsibilities of someone born in the country. Michael G. Murray, P.A. can assist you through the process of naturalization or obtaining dual citizenship.
Understanding the Naturalization Process in Texas
Understanding the naturalization process is difficult for many, especially those for whom English is not a primary language. This is why retaining the services of a knowledgeable immigration attorney in TX is essential. They can help you avoid any pitfalls and advise you about aspects of the process that you may not have considered.
For example, were you aware that, as a naturalization applicant, you may be able to include eligible minor children on the application? Your legal advisor can help you weigh all of your options.
THE REQUIREMENTS FOR U.S. CITIZENSHIP
Before filing for dual nationality, you should ensure that you meet the requirements for U.S. citizenship. These include the following:
- At least five years as a lawful permanent resident (three for the spouse of a U.S. citizen)
- At least 18 years old
- Continuously maintained lawful permanent residence
- Good moral character
- Pass an English test
- Pass a U.S. history and government test
- Physically in the U.S., at least 2 ½ years of the previous 5
- Read, speak, and write English
- Takes the oath of allegiance to the U.S.
Many people become concerned about the requirement that they have “good moral character,” as that can be arbitrary. Basically, having a conviction for certain crimes may prohibit you from receiving a certificate of naturalization. A skilled immigration lawyer can help determine whether this applies to your situation.
Documents Required for Passport
There are certain documents required for a passport. You need to supply the appropriate government agency with the following:
- Completed passport application
- Passport confirmation form
- Proof of U.S. citizenship
- Proof of identity
- Passport photos
- Filing fee
If planning to travel outside of the U.S., keep in mind that to complete your requirements for naturalization, you must be physically present in the United States for at least half of the five years before applying.
Special Considerations for Naturalization
Before initiating your journey toward becoming a U.S. national, it is better to understand some basic responsibilities of an American citizen. Here are some duties that could be important.
- You may be required to renounce or give up your previous nationality, depending on the country’s ruling.
- You must file U.S. tax returns for life, no matter where in the U.S. you live.
- Your history would undergo heavy scrutiny of your criminal background.
Other than this, you might be required to serve mandatory jury duty in a criminal trial or serve mandatory military service. But this will only be required if you are being summoned by the judge.
HOW TO APPLY FOR U.S. CITIZENSHIP
When investigating how to apply for U.S. citizenship, it helps to have an attorney with ample experience in those matters. They can help you prepare the application, which can be fairly complicated, and explain what supporting documents and filing fees you need to submit with it.
After your forms are submitted, the status of your application and processing times will be posted on the USCIS website. Then, depending on the TX state or USCIS district, you may have to make a fingerprinting appointment, which supplies part of the biometrics used for a criminal background check. Certain crimes can prohibit an immigrant from earning their certificate of naturalization.
If you are unsure whether you will be able to complete the process, a TX visa lawyer will review your case and provide answers.
Steps to Become an American Citizen
After preparing and submitting the application and additional documentation, there are some critical steps that must be thoroughly and accurately followed to become an American citizen.
The first is passing the naturalization citizenship test and interview with a USCIS officer, which usually occurs on the same day in the USCIS office. The purpose is to evaluate your understanding of the English language, as well as the country’s government.
Your attorney can help with interview preparation. If you fail to pass, you may be administered a second interview to determine eligibility.
After that, you have to wait for an official citizenship ruling. You can request a hearing to appeal the decision if you are denied. If you qualify, you will be asked to attend an Oath of Allegiance ceremony to officially acknowledge your loyalty to the United States in a judicial ceremony. Once you attain citizenship, you will receive information about your responsibilities and rights from the USCIS.
WHEN CAN I APPLY FOR CITIZENSHIP IN TEXAS?
In your desire to get the process started, you might be asking, “When can I apply for citizenship?” It depends on where you are starting from.
Before you can become a naturalized citizen, you must have been a legal permanent resident living in the country for five consecutive years, or three years if you are the spouse of a citizen. You must also meet the other requirements, so it depends on your grasp of the English language and how long it will take you to learn it if you are unfamiliar.
If you are over 18 and meet the other requirements, you can apply for naturalization. Your immigration attorney can help you determine whether you are ready.
When Is the Right Time to Apply for U.S. Citizenship?
So, when is the right time to apply for U.S. citizenship? When you believe you qualify, you can begin the process. If the USCIS responds with a request for evidence after submitting your application and additional documents, your lawyer may help you provide the necessary information. This can give you a better chance of becoming a United States citizen.
The process of naturalization requires more than just filling out some paperwork and answering a few questions. Let a skilled attorney like Michael G. Murray, P.A., review your case to make the path as simple as possible.