Coleman Jackson, PC
Immigration & Tax Law Firm
Firm Site www.cjacksonlaw.com
December 4, 2013
What is Naturalization?
In the United States, citizens can be divided in two basic categories, Natural Citizens and Naturalized Citizens. The natural citizen is someone born in the United States or born to U.S. Citizen parents on foreign land. The naturalized citizen is someone born in a foreign country but granted U.S. citizenship after fulfilling certain legal requirements.
If you were not born as a U.S. citizen, Naturalization is the process by which you can obtain the United States citizenship if you make application to United States Citizenship & Immigration Services “USCIS” and meet specific qualifications set forth in the U.S. Immigration And Nationality Laws.
This article will guide you through eligibility criteria and application process for naturalization along with the benefits you will receive as a citizen of the United States of America.
Eligibility Criteria for Naturalization
- You must be at least 18 years of age.
- You must continuously reside in the United States for a period of 5 years. This period is reduced to 3 years if you are married to a U.S. citizen.
- You have not traveled outside of the U.S. at least for 1 year.
- You must prove a minimum 3 months residence in the state where you are applying for citizenship.
- You are a person of good moral character.
- You have a good command of the English language, that is, you have gained competency in reading, writing and speaking English.
- You must have fundamental knowledge of U.S. history and government principals.
- You must be willing to perform either military or civilian service for the United States.
- You must respect and support the constitution of the United States.
- You must be willing to take an oath of allegiance to the United States of America.
Application Process for Naturalization
Application process for Naturalization is not complicated and consists of submission of a government form, several supporting documents, followed by an interview and the allegiance Oath at the end. Consider the following steps.
Determine eligibility: Before applying, make sure you satisfy all the eligibility criteria according to USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service). For reference basic eligibility criteria are mentioned above in this blog.
Obtain Application Form: You need to submit form N-400 to apply for Naturalization. You can print this form from the USCIS website or you can order it by calling 1 800 870 3676.
Answer all the questions completely and truthfully in this form. You should seriously consider consulting and purchasing the services of a professional immigration attorney because although the application process might seem straight forward; errors made when completing the form, failure to supply required proofs, certain factors in your background, inaccuracies and mistakes made when you obtained your Green Card, and application of certain legal precedence, USCIS field adjudication policies and practices could result in a denial or the delayed processing of your application.
Submit Application Form: After the completion of the naturalization application, submit it to USCIS for further processing and mail it via U.S. postal services or private mail company to the appropriate address. Along with application form, you need to send two passport size color photographs taken within 30 days, all required documents and fees by check or by money order payable to “Department of Homeland Security”.
- Make a copy of the naturalization application and everything that you send to USCIS for your personal file,
- Send supporting documents,
- Send a bank cashier’s check or money order made payable to the Department of Homeland Security,
- Do not send application fees by cash.
You will receive a receipt from USCIS, which indicates that your application has been received. You can check current processing times and the status of application on the basis of your receipt no.
Biometric Appointment: Once USCIS verifies your documents authentic along with required eligibility criteria, it will approve your application and send you a letter with instruction related to your biometric test, appointment schedule and place. Usually it is scheduled at your nearest USCIS Application Support Center near your residence. You should arrive at your appointment on time, with the USCIS letter and your personal identification card, such as your driver license or student identification card. USCIS requires applicant’s fingerprints for criminal background verification.
Sometimes USCIS may ask for additional documents for further verification and examination of your eligibility to naturalize, and will send you a request for evidence (“RFE”).
Interview: Once above processes are complete, the USCIS will schedule a naturalization interview. They will inform you of the date, time and place of the naturalization interview by sending a letter to you. It is very important to dress appropriately, appear on time and be courteous throughout the interview. In case you fail to attend your interview, re-scheduling could delay the process for several months. Failure to attend the naturalization interview could result in denial of your naturalization application.
At the time of the interview you will be asked about yourself and questions on the N-400 form you completed. You could even be asked about any matters in your immigration file. It is very important that you are prepared for this interview and it is critical that you are truthful and honest in your responses to the officer(s)’ questions.
In some cases if you are unsuccessful in the naturalization interview, or the USCIS officer were not satisfied with your answers, performance or documents, you can request that a second interview be scheduled. If you are unsuccessful the second time, you might reconsider naturalizing or begin the application process all over again.
Receive a Decision: After the interview you will receive your result, if you are denied then you will receive a letter explaining the reason(s) for denial of your naturalization application. If you believe that it is appropriate, you may request a hearing to appeal the denial decision. If your application is granted, Congratulations! You do not become a U.S. citizen until you take the oath of allegiance to the United States of America. Be ready to participate in the oath ceremony.
Oath of Allegiance to the United States: Again, you will not become a U.S. citizen until you take the oath of Allegiance at the naturalization ceremony. In case you are not able to attend naturalization ceremony, you can ask for rescheduling. After the ceremony you will receive your Certificate of Naturalization.
Benefits and Responsibilities of U.S. Citizenship
The constitution and laws of the United States of America give many rights as well responsibilities to citizens. Once you are a citizen, it is important to understand your rights and responsibilities.
- Vote in federal, state and local elections.
- Right to a prompt and fair trial by jury of your peers.
- Get to bring certain family members to the United States as immediate relatives.
- Obtain citizenship for children born abroad.
- Becoming eligible for federal employment requiring U.S. citizenship.
- Right to become an elected official.
- Travel with a U.S. passport.
- Eligible for federal grants and scholarship.
- Support and defend the Constitution of the United States.
- Serve the country when required.
- Participate in the democratic process.
- Respect and obey federal, state, and local laws.
- Respect the rights, beliefs, and opinions of others.
- Participate in your local community.
- Pay income and other taxes honestly, and on time, to federal, state, and local authorities.
- Defend the country if need arise.
This naturalization presentation is written to inform and for educational purposes only. It is not given as legal advice and does not create an attorney client relationship. You should consult an attorney for any particular matter pertaining to your facts and circumstances.
COLEMAN JACKSON, P.C.
Immigration & Tax Law Firm
6060 North Central Expressway, Suite 443
Dallas, Texas 75206
Office Phone: (214) 599-0431 (English) (214) 599-0432 (Spanish)