There are different immigration opportunities for people with different goals. If you want to attend an American school or start a business here, a visa might be what you need. If you have family in the United States and want to live here permanently, you may need a green card.
Those who have been in the country for some time as permanent residents and who know they want to stay here forever may decide that they want to become citizens. Naturalization is the process that allows someone born in another country to become a citizen of the United States.
You have to meet certain criteria set by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) to even qualify for naturalization, and there are important steps you must fulfill. How do you complete the naturalization process and become a citizen?
Meet the basic criteria
Not everyone can qualify to become a citizen. You need to be at least 18 years old when you file, and you need to have been a lawful permanent resident for years. For most people, the minimum amount of time lawfully residing in the United States is five years. In specific cases, like a spouse of a citizen with a green card, three years of lawful residence may be sufficient.
You will need to remain in the United States without interruption. Traveling abroad for more than six months may increase how long you must wait before applying. You will also need to pass two tests and take an Oath of Allegiance to the United States.
Prepare for the naturalization interview and exams
The USCIS will schedule an interview for you if you need the basic criteria and file the appropriate paperwork. During that interview, you will have to answer any questions they may have about your application and also pass exams in English and Civics.
The Civics test is an oral exam that involves answering 20 questions about the history and government of the United States. The English language test involves reading, writing, speaking and listening. Provided that you pass both tests and clear up any concerns around your application, the interview is often the last major step before you become a United States citizen.
Knowing what to expect during the naturalization process can help you prepare to seek your citizenship.