Naturalization is the process of acquiring citizenship and nationality of a country where a person is currently residing, but is originally not a citizen or a national of that country. There are certain basic requirements which the candidate has to fulfill before he/she can become a naturalized citizen.
The most common requirements include: the person has to be a full-time resident for a minimum period of time, the applicant promises to obey and uphold the laws of that country, etc. Sometimes, an oath or pledge of allegiance can also be added.
Some nations demand that the person renounce the other citizenship he currently holds while others allow dual citizenship. Before you opt for dual citizenship, you will have to weigh its pros and cons. Give focus on naturalization steps in the United States of America.
One of the first questions that people who want to undergo the process of naturalization ask is, how long will it take to become a US citizen. The time taken can vary anywhere between five months to more than two years. It depends on where you file the application from and when you choose to file it.
The period is dependent upon the number of applications received by the particular office in each state. At the same time, if your application has any mistakes, it will be directly proportional to the amount of time required for its processing.
After the entire process has been completed, the swearing-in ceremony will take between 1 to 180 days. However, this should not be considered as the standard, as in some immigration offices, it can take as long as one or two years. Here is a detailed procedure to acquire the US citizenship.
Fill the Form
The first step is to fill out form N-400. It is also called application for naturalization. Make sure you fill it completely and not leave anything unfilled. If it is incomplete, it will delay the process.
The most important tip is to be honest, because during your interview, there are chances that you will be asked questions based on information in your form. Any discrepancy in the details, may turn out to be the reason for you not getting through the naturalization process. Keeping a photocopy of the application form is advisable.
You will require two passport size color or black and white photographs. Make sure you have them in correct sizes. The correct size is 2" x 2" or 5 x 5 cm. Wrong size can lead to rejection.
The photographs should not have head coverings unless it is done for religious reasons. They should be clear and must give a full frontal view of your face, and the size of the head from the chin to the top of head, should not be smaller than 2 cm. They should be latest, and must not have been taken more than 6 months prior to the date of application.
Appropriate Documents and Mailing
You will have to furnish all the appropriate documents. In case, certain documents are not in English, you will need a translated copy of such documents and will have to attach them to the photocopies of the originals. You should send in the photocopy of your Green Card and the other documents required.
Make sure you always have the originals that you are dispatching. They have to be preserved, as you may have to produce them at the time of interview.
Once all the documents are in place, you will have to mail them to the correct immigration office. On failing to do so, the process may take longer than expected. Along with all the documents, you will also have to send in a money order or check towards the fee. You cannot make the payment in any other form.
After you have sent in all the documents, you will receive an acknowledgment letter from the office. You will now have to visit the designated fingerprinting location, on the scheduled date and time. In case there are additional documents that you have been asked for, you will have to procure them and send them.
Attend Interview and Tests
After all the documents are in place, you will receive an appointment letter for the interview after which, you will have to go to the designated location on the scheduled date and time for the interview process. It is recommended that you carry an identification proof with you.
After the interview, you will have to give the English and Civics tests. Remember, you will have to prepare for this test. You will also have to wait till you hear from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
If you have become eligible for naturalization, you will receive an intimation from the Immigration Services. It will also mention the ceremony date, location, and time. Do not forget to take the Permanent Resident Card with you, when you go for the ceremony.
You will be asked questions pertaining to activities that you have undertaken after the interview. After you have answered the questions, you will have to take the oath of allegiance to the US Constitution. Then you will receive the Certificate of Naturalization, upon which you would become a US citizen.