Basic Rules and Requirements for U.S. Citizenship & Naturalization
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Naturalization is the process by which a foreign national becomes a U.S. Citizen. This process can only begin after the foreign national has been a U.S. Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) or Green Card holder for a set period of time, in addition to other requirements.
The following is a summary of the requirements for applying for Naturalization. It is best to consult an Immigration Attorney to properly review your personal history, requirements and potential issues that may arise for your application.
What are the requirements for being able to apply for Naturalization (U.S. Citizenship)?
- The Applicant must be at least 18 years of age.
- The Applicant must have been a U.S. Permanent Resident for at least 5 years (3 years if they satisfy the requirements for filing as a spouse of a U.S. Citizen).
- The Applicant must not have left the U.S. for 6 months or longer during the last 5 years (3 years if they satisfy the requirements for filing as a Spouse of a U.S. Citizen).
- The Applicant must have been physically present in the US for 30 months, or 18 months out of the last 3 years if they satisfy the requirements for filing as a Spouse of a U.S. Citizen.
- The Applicant must reside in the same U.S. District for the last 3 months before filing the Naturalization Application.
- The Applicant must be able to read, write and speak English (Small exceptions may apply for older U.S. Residents and those with certain medical issues).
- The Applicant must answer a series of questions about U.S. Civics and History (Small exception may apply for U.S. Residents with medical issues).
- The Applicant must not have Moral Character, Tax or Criminal issues (Consult an Attorney to review your history). Exceptions may apply.
- Many Applicants who are male U.S. Residents must show that they registered for the Selective Service.
- The Applicant must be willing to perform military service and give an oath allegiance to the U.S. (Exceptions may apply).
What do I need to apply for Naturalization (U.S. Citizenship) through the JQK Law Firm?
- The Applicant must complete the JQK Law Firm Naturalization Questionnaire.
- The Applicant must have a clear immigration and criminal history. A review of the Applicants complete record is necessary.
- Our office may submit a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with USCIS and USCBP for the Applicant’s complete Immigration History, as well as requesting certified copies of all criminal court and/or arrest records and FBI rap sheet.
- If certain issues exist, additional legal work must be done to correct or ameliorate the problem.
- The Applicant’s Green Card must be valid for at least 6 months at the time of the filing of the Naturalization Application. Color copies of the front and back of the card are required.
- The Applicant must be physically present in the U.S. at the time of the submission of the Naturalization Application.
- Two (2) passport style photos at the time of the submission of the Naturalization Application, and two (2) more passport photos at the time of the Naturalization Interview.
- Copies of the Applicant’s Tax Returns for the last 5 years (3 years if they satisfy the requirements for filing as a Spouse of a U.S. Citizen).
- A completed Form N-400, Application for Naturalization. The filing fee is currently $680, but may change. Fee waivers may be available for some Applicants.
- The application must be submitted to the current and correct USCIS mailing address.
- For Male Applicants: documentation of registry with the Selective Service.
- Important: Additional documentation may be required. For a complete list of documents that are necessary based on various Naturalization scenarios (Such as for Spouses of U.S. Citizens or Military Personnel), please review the JQK Law Firm article titled: “What Documents Do I Need To Bring To My Naturalization /Citizenship Interview?”
What happens after I file the Naturalization Application? *
- Shortly after the application is received by USCIS, the Applicant will receive a Receipt confirming delivery of the application. The Applicant must make sure that the information contained in the Receipt is correct. NOTE: The Applicant must keep all original letters and documents received from USCIS.
- A few weeks after receiving the Receipt, the Applicant should receive a Biometrics Appointment letter. This letter will include the time and location where the Applicant will have their picture and fingerprints taken. The applicant must attend this appointment, or reschedule if they are not able to attend at that time.
- Around 1 to 2 months later an Interview Appointment letter will be sent to the Applicant, set for 1 to 2 months in the future.
- After a successful Naturalization Interview, an official Oath Ceremony will be scheduled for that same day or up to 3 months in the future (Depending on local schedules).
- If the Applicant’s Interview is not successful, the application may be denied or the interviewing Officer may ask the Applicant for more evidence and documentation.
- For Information about the Naturalization Interview and Oath Ceremony, please review the JQK Law Firm article titled: “The Naturalization (Citizenship) Interview and Oath Ceremony”
- U.S Passports can be obtained after Naturalization through the U.S State Department, typically at a U.S. Post Office.
- Some Applicants may already be U.S. Citizens. Please consult an Attorney for more information.
- New Citizens should notify the Social Security Office of their change in status.
- New Citizens can submit Immigration Petitions for married children, parents and siblings.
Please note that an Applicant is not a U.S. Citizen until after they receive their Naturalization Certificate.
* The timing of these events may change without notice depending on the capacity of local USCIS Field Offices.