Natty Shafer Law

Utah lawyer for criminal and immigration cases


Leave a comment

Citizenship Naturalization Process

Applicants who have determined that they are eligible for naturalization are likely to be curious about the process of naturalization and what to expect. (Other people may be curious, too.)

First, applicants (or their attorneys) fill out the N-400. Every question should be answered, and it should be written in CAPS. What supporting documentation to submit depends on the applicant’s history and basis for filing the N-400, but each application requires a photocopy of the front and back of their Permanent Resident Card, 2 passport style photos, and a check for the filling fees.

After USCIS receives the application, they will send a notice for a “biometric” appointment. Basically, they will take the applicants’ fingerprints and possibly their pictures so that they can conduct background checks. Assuming that applicants have no criminal history, no ties to terrorist or communist organizations, and no other red flags, then they should pass the background check. It is possible to select another appointment date, but if at all possible, applicants should go to their appointment on the assigned date.

USCIS will send a notice for another appointment, this time for the naturalization interview. Some applicants may qualify for a waiver, but most applicants will need to be ready to take a civics test and to speak to the interviewer in English. The whole interview will be done in English, and one of the interviewer’s goals will be to test the applicant’s ability to communicate in English. The interviewer will ask up to 10 questions on civics and the U.S. government; once the applicant has correctly answered 6 questions, the questions stop. The applicant will also need to read one sentence in English and write one sentence in English. An applicant will get up to 3 chances to read and write a sentence correctly.

An applicant who passes the naturalization interview and the background check is likely to be recommended for citizenship. Applicants will get a final notice for their swearing in ceremony. Usually, many applicants are sworn-in at once. Either a United States judge or a USCIS officer will swear in the applicants, and the applicants must swear allegiance to the United States. After that, applicants are officially U.S. citizens. They can vote, serve on juries, obtain a U.S. passport, and generally have the same rights as citizens born in the United States.


1 Comment

Citizenship Naturalization Requirements

The process of naturalization grants foreign born citizens or nationals U.S. citizenship, provided they meet the requirements Congress established. Previously, I have written about getting citizenship through military service. This information is for civilians wishing to become naturalized citizens.

The most common way for a person to become a citizen is by being a lawful permanent resident (green card holder) for at least 5 years and is at least 18 years old. After 5 years, a potential applicant may fill out “Form N-400” to start the process. During the past 5 years, the applicant must have spent at least 30 months (2.5 years) of that time inside the United States. Also, the applicant may not have had any foreign trips that lasted longer than 6 months. (These rules exist under the rationale that applicants who spends more than half their time outside the country may not have strong enough ties or allegiance to the United States.)

Another way a person can apply is if they are at least 18 years old, have been a lawful permanent resident for 3 years, and have been married to and living with a U.S. citizen for 3 years. The U.S. citizen spouse must have been a citizen for all of that 3 year period. Such applicants also fill out Form N-400.

This next way is relatively rare but is worth mentioning. A small group of people are classified as “U.S. nationals” and yet were not born U.S. citizens. People born in some U.S. territories, such as American Samoa, belong in this category. U.S. nationals who have lived in a state long enough to be legal residents can request naturalization through Form N-400; it is not required that they be a permanent resident first.

For some people it may be possible to have USCIS declare that they automatically became a citizen after they were born. This requires filling out Form N-600 “Certificate of Citizenship.” Often, the N-600 is naturalization as well, since such applicants are born as citizens of a different country but become citizens after birth. The N-600 deserves its own post, however.