Becoming a United States citizen

Many individuals who are citizens of foreign countries have lived in Pennsylvania for many years as holders of green cards or work visas. For a variety of reasons, they now want to pursue full-fledged citizenship. The procedure for doing so may seem very intimidating, but the United States government provides a number of aids intended to help would-be citizens prepare and pass the various tests required of new citizens. Moreover, the requirements for eligibility and the actual test for citizenship are not especially difficult.

Citizenship eligibility

A person who wants to apply for American citizenship must satisfy the following eligibility requirements:

  • Be at least 18 years old when the citizenship application is filed
  • Be able to read, write and speak basic English and
  • Be of good moral character
  • Have lived lawfully in the United States for five years.

If a person meets these requirements, he or she can file a formal application for citizenship. To become a citizen, the must satisfy ten requirements.

The path to citizenship

First, the applicant cannot be a U.S. citizen. Second, the applicant must be eligible to become a U.S. citizen. Next, the applicant must complete and file Form N-400. This form, which is available on the internet, asks for basic information about the applicant and his or her parents, such as place of birth, age, and current address. When the form is submitted, the applicant must pay the required fee. The next step is the biometrics appointment. Despite the intimidating title, this step is merely an interview in which certain physical information is captured, such as a photograph, fingerprints, and signature.

The final steps

The applicant must sit for an interview with an Immigration official. During the interview, the applicant will be required to pass an oral test regarding subjects such as political and governmental institutions in the United States. If the applicant passes the test and if immigration officials have approved the contents of the Form N-400, the applicant will be notified that the application has been accepted. The applicant will then be given an appointment to take the Oath of Allegiance to the United States, and the process will be complete.

Preparing to seek citizenship. While the steps outlined above may seem overwhelming, both the United States government and other entities provide significant assistance in preparing for the citizenship process. Most people are able to take and pass the tests with little or no assistance, but a competent immigration attorney can offer significant help with preporation.

 

FindLaw Network