The Road to United States CItizenship

While there is an actual application form for citizenship, the N-400, Application for Naturalization, there is much more involved in the citizenship application. The first step is to become eligible to complete the N-400.

In order to apply for citizenship to the United States an applicant must first be a lawful permanent resident, or hold a Green Card. The first step to attaining a card is through petition. There are eight ways to petition for a card: petition by family, petition by employer, refugee or seeking asylum, human trafficking or crime victim, victim of abuse, other categories and by registry as stated by the United States Immigration and Citizenship Services.

Once a Green Card is approved and obtained, the lawful permanent resident must hold a physical address in the United States. The applicant may travel abroad for work or pleasure but must maintain his or her address. Prior to completing the form N-400, the applicant must have physically been in the United States for the three months immediately preceding the filed application, according to the American Immigration Center. The applicant must be 18 years of age, speak and read English, be of good moral character and be willing to take an oath of allegiance to the United States. It is only when these obligations are fulfilled that a lawful permanent resident can complete a citizenship application.

The Form N-400 Citizenship Application
Once eligibility to complete the citizenship application is established, a person can complete the citizenship application. The application is available online at the American Immigration Center or it can be downloaded, printed and mailed in. If the applicant chooses the online route he or she will need to register and create a user account with a login and password. The form can be saved and returned to at a later date. The first section of the online form is an eligibility quiz to determine if the application can be completed. If there is a question about eligibility, the online portal will not allow the applicant to proceed and create an account. On the paper form the first section has similar questions to the quiz.

The second section of the citizenship application requires personal information such as name and birth date. The application also allows an immigrant to legally change this or her name as part of the naturalization process. The third section relates to accommodation for disabilities. It is in the fourth and following sections where the application digs into the applicant's personal history with questions about parents, political affiliations, spouses, children, employers, schooling and criminal activity. Section 13 is the statement, certification and signature portion. There are a few exemptions to the literacy requirement and those are addressed in the N-400 with sections 14-16 relating to interpreters. Section 17 does require the applicant to renounce any foreign titles and the final section is the sworn oath of allegiance.

Like other government form the N-400 comes with a complete set of instructions that should be read first. The application must be filed with supporting documentation. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services provides a checklist of the required documentation. The citizenship application itself is free to access but does have filing fees and requires a biometrics screening at the applicant's expense. The standard biometrics screening includes submitting a photograph, signature and fingerprints.