While some immigrants to the United States wish to remain citizens of their home countries, many intend ultimately to become U.S. citizens. The process of becoming a U.S. citizen is called naturalization, and it is long and difficult. Because of this, it is important to know the steps you will have to go through before you can take the Oath of Allegiance, and to be able to fix any problems along the way.
The most important part is to know whether you are eligible to become a U.S. citizen, and if not, to possibly take steps to become eligible. In order to be eligible, you must:
Have been in the United States as a permanent resident for at least five years (or three if married to a United States citizen);
Show good moral character (if you have committed certain offenses, you may be unable to show this);
Have an “attachment to the Constitution,” meaning you must understand and be willing to fight in defense of Constitutional principles; and
Be able to demonstrate a working knowledge of the English language and have a good enough grasp of civics to pass the naturalization test.
Once you have determined eligibility, you can fill out and submit your petition, the N-400, to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). It is a good idea to be truthful and also to have an immigration attorney verify the information in this petition; if you lie or misrepresent facts, it may be deemed to show that you do not have good moral character, which will bar you from being granted naturalization.
While you are waiting for the results of your application, you will also have to have biometrics done. Biometrics include fingerprints and other relevant personal data, which is essentially a criminal background check.
The interview is often the most difficult and intimidating part of the naturalization process. You may have your attorney or another representative there with you if you file the appropriate form ahead of time, but most people go alone. The interview is where you will be asked about your personal information, but also where you will take the tests on the English language and civics. The interview is USCIS’ last chance to verify that the information on your application is correct and truthful, and when the officer has asked their questions, they will usually issue a decision on your case. If they do not, it is usually because information is missing, and not because of any negative determination.
If your application is denied, you have the right to appeal immediately. If your application is approved, you will then be approved to take the Oath of Allegiance. Sometimes you can take the Oath on the same day as your interview, but most of the time you will attend a ceremony at a later date. It is there that you turn in your Permanent Resident Card, swear the oath and receive your Certificate of Naturalization.
If you have questions or you need help in your journey to naturalization, please contact the DuPage County, IL immigration attorneys at Mevorah Law Offices LLC. We can help you with any immigration issues you may be facing.
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