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What is Naturalization?

Naturalization refers to the process in which a lawful permanent resident is granted United States citizenship after meeting certain requirements established in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Except for presidential eligibility, naturalized U.S. citizens have all of the same rights and responsibilities as natural born citizens. 

Key Takeaways

  • Naturalization is the process in which a lawful permanent resident is granted United States citizenship after meeting specific requirements set by law.
  • Continuous residence in the United States is a key requirement for naturalization. 
  • In order to qualify for naturalization, an individual must be at least 18 years of age and considered mentally capable.

Requirements for Naturalization

Becoming a naturalized citizen of the United States is a significant milestone in an immigrant’s life. The naturalization process requires meeting several critical requirements, so all applicants must:

  • Be the minimum required age (18 years old)
  • Possess the legal capacity to understand and undertake the naturalization process
  • Demonstrate a period of continuous residency and physical presence in the U.S. (typically at least five years)
  • Show good moral character including avoidance of criminal activity and compliance with the U.S. legal system
  • Express language proficiency in English including reading, reading, and speaking (with exemptions through age, length of residency or medical conditions)
  • Possess civics knowledge on the history, principles and form of government of the U.S.
  • Demonstrate allegiance to the United States

It is critical to note that there are some exceptions and modifications to these requirements based on age, disability status, time as a permanent resident, and other factors. Up-to-date information regarding full requirements for naturalization can be found on the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website. 

Applying for Naturalization

If you are interested in applying for naturalization in the U.S., the first step is to file a Form N-400, also known as an Application for Naturalization. Several accompanying documents must be sent alongside the application, such as the fee payment, a photocopy of your green card, passport photos, and any other relevant documentation. 

Once the application is submitted, you will be invited to attend an interview at your local USCIS office where you will demonstrate your ability to speak and understand English. In the interview, you will also be asked to express basic knowledge about the U.S. government and its history.

It is essential to take your naturalization interview seriously, as it is often considered the pivotal moment where your eligibility for U.S. citizenship is determined. This interview serves as a direct evaluation of your readiness to become a citizen and integrate into society. Therefore, being well-prepared, confident, and respectful during the interview can greatly influence its outcome.

Bottom Line

The naturalization process allows immigrants to finally attain the full rights and privileges of U.S. citizenship after years of lawfully residing in the country. While the requirements like continuous residence, good moral character, and knowledge of English and civics can seem daunting, they ensure new citizens are well-prepared for their transition. 

If you're feeling overwhelmed by the naturalization requirements or unsure where to start, the experienced immigration attorneys at Attorney At Law. Don’t go it alone - we are here to help.

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