The process of becoming a United States citizen takes about six to 12 months to complete. That process includes getting a green card, taking a citizenship test and undergoing an interview.
Getting a Green Card Even though the time varies for becoming a citizen after applying, there are a series of steps that must be completed to achieve citizenship. Those interested in becoming a citizen must first have a permanent green card to begin the application process. The eligibility requirements vary depending on category, according to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website. The application process includes filing a petition for immigration, filing an application, undergoing a biometric appointment and doing an interview.
Eligibility Requirements for Citizenship Requirements can vary due to personal circumstances. However, there are some general requirements needed, according to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website. These include:
- Applicant must be a green card holder
- Applicant must be at least 18 years old
- Applicant must have been continuously present in the U.S. for at least five years; if married to a U.S. citizen, the requirement is three years
- Applicant must have lived in the same state for at least three months and apply for citizenship in that state
- Applicant must be able to speak, write and read basic English
- Applicant must have a good moral character
Filing an Application Once a person meets the requirements, the Form N-400 must be completed. When submitting this form, applicants must also submit two passport-style photos and supporting documents. The documents needed depend on where the applicant lives as it varies in each district.
Biometrics Once an application is approved, applicants need to attend a biometrics appointment. At the appointment, applicants will undergo fingerprinting, have their photo taken and provide their signature. This information will be used for a background check. Once the background check is approved, this step is complete.
Interview After completing the background check, the applicant will have a citizenship interview. During the interview, the application will be reviewed and the applicant may ask any questions about citizenship. The agent will also ask questions about any discrepancies in the application or criminal history. If the interviewee feels the interview went well, the applicant will then move on to testing.
Citizenship Test Applicants will have two tests they need to pass to complete the application process, according to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website. The first test is the English exam. The applicant will need to write a sentence in English and read a sentence in English out loud. The next test is the history exam. To pass, the applicant must correctly answer six out of 10 questions. A study guide of 100 questions is available for applicants to study, which is available on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website.
Naturalization Ceremony Once all steps have been completed, the applicant can take part in a naturalization ceremony. During the ceremony, the applicant will take an Oath of Allegiance to the United States. After the ceremony, the applicant becomes a U.S. citizen.
Dual Citizenship To become a U.S. citizen, a person does not have to give up citizenship from their country of origin. However, if traveling out the country, the person will need to have a U.S passport to both leave and re-enter the country. Citizenship rules vary for other countries.