Becoming a U.S. Citizen
Citizenship or Naturalization is the process an individual can follow to be considered a US Citizen. Such status grants the individual all the rights, privileges, and obligations that a citizen has.
An individual can become a citizen in two different ways: naturalization or when born in the US.
Need to prove your citizenship? Please see this article here.
What are the benefits of being a US Citizen?
US Citizens enjoy a number of rights and privileges. This is a list of some of the benefits you can enjoy when you become a citizen:
- Freely travel across US borders: Overseas traveling is not a problem with your US Passport. A citizen doesn’t have time restrictions when they travel outside the US.
- Vote: As a citizen you have the ability to vote in federal elections.
- US Collect Benefits: You can enjoy of US Citizens-only benefits, such as Medicare and Social Security.
- Reunite with your family: As a citizen, you can petition certain members of your family to become Permanent Residents. Keep in mind that such family members must meet some criteria first.
- Get hired as a Federal Employee: Just like all Federal positions, you must be a US Citizen in order to apply.
Requirements to Apply
The process to naturalization starts at defining if you’re an eligible individual. According to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), you are eligible to become a U.S. citizen if you are at least 18 years old and have been a legal resident for five years minimum. If you’re married to a U.S. citizen and have resided in the country for at least 3 years, you’re also eligible.
It’s necessary to have a Continuous Residence. This means that you have to remain within the U.S. territory for the majority of time of those 5 or more years. If you leave the U.S. for a long period, the Continuous Residence is interrupted. In addition, you must have lived in the state or USCIS district in which you are filing for at least 3 month prior to filing your petition.
Your moral character has to be proven as good. USCIS will make this determination based upon the Congress laws. Some fundamental factors are your criminal record and the truthfulness of your answers in the moment of the interview.
With some specific exceptions, you also have to be fluent in English (writing, reading and speaking). Additionally, basic knowledge of the U.S. History is required.
In order to complete your petition, you must include the request documents in your submission packet. The specific documents required depend on how you qualify for naturalization.
- Two passport-style photos that following the USCIS guidelines: you must write your name and Alien Number on the back of both photos in pencil or a felt pen
- Copy of your Permanent Resident Card (Green Card): the copy must show the front and back of the card and be able to read clearly. If you name has changed since you were issued a Green Card, you must provide documentation that shows how you legally changed your name.
- A check or money order for the N-400 filing fee and biometric fee: The filing fee for the naturalization application is $595 and the biometric service fee is $85. You can pay the fee using one check or money order. The total amount is $680. The check or money order must be payable to the “Department of Homeland Security”. Do not abbreviate or use any other variation.
If you are using marriage to a U.S. Citizen as your basis for naturalization:
- Proof that your spouse has been a US citizen for the last three years
- Evidence of your spouse's citizenship:
- Birth certificate (if your spouse never lost citizenship since birth --or--
- Certificate of Naturalization --or--
- Certificate of Citizenship ---or---
- The inside of the front cover and signature page of your spouse’s current U.S. passport ---or---
- Form FS-240, Report of Birth Abroad of a Citizen of the United States of America --or---
- Your current marriage certificate with an official translation if in a language other than English
- Proof of termination of all prior marriage of your spouse and your own
- Divorce decrees --or--
- Annulments --or--
- Death certificates
- Documents that refer to both you and your spouse, like:
- Bank accounts, leases, mortgages, or birth certificates of children
- IRS-certified copies of the income tax forms that you both filed for the past 3 years --or--
- An IRS tax return transcript for the last 3 years
If you have taken any trip outside of the United States that lasted 6 months or more since becoming a Lawful Permanent Resident, send a evidence that you (and your family) continued to live, work, and/or keep ties to the United States, such as:
- An IRS tax return “transcript” or an IRS-certified tax return listing tax information for the last 5 years (or if you are applying on the basis of marriage to a US citizen, for the last 3 years)
- Rent or mortgage payments and pay stubs
- If you have a criminal history, you are required to disclose this information and provide documentation about the case with your petition.
- If you have concerns with taxes, you will need to take steps to correct your status with the government and include evidence of your efforts to correct your status.
- If you are a male who is at least 26 years old and were in the United States between the ages of 18 and 26 in an status other than as a lawful nonimmigrant, you must show that you registered with the Selective Service or a “Status Information Letter” from the Selective Service if you did not.