How Does Someone Apply for Citizenship?

Applying for citizenship in the United States is a structured process. In order to become a United States citizen, a person must follow a certain order of requirements.

Many people want to become a United States citizen, as it affords them with many rights and opportunities. Americans have the advantage of living in a democracy, where hard work and perseverance can help many of them get ahead. The United States Constitution provides many protections, along with responsibilities of being a good citizen. United States citizens have the opportunity to vote in elections and obtain a U.S. passport. Applying to be a citizen of the United States requires one to follow a structured process. Here is a guide to apply for United States citizenship.

File Form N-400
Before filing Form N-400, a person applying for citizenship must first determine if he or she is eligible to become a United States citizen. Not everyone is eligible to become a United States citizen. Applicants must find out if they are permanent residents of the United States. Only legal permanent residents can apply for United States citizenship. In most cases, applicants must be a permanent resident for several years before they can apply for citizenship. If at first glance a person knows he or she is not eligible, that person can work towards removing these barriers to United States citizenship. Once an applicant determines eligibility, he or she fills out Form N-400 to start the process. There are fees involved with filing this form. Applicants will need to present a copy of their Green Card with the form application.

Get Fingerprinted
Once Form N-400 has been filed, the applicant is sent a date for fingerprinting. Applicants are given an address and a date when they can be fingerprinted. Applicants need to bring in the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) letter, photo identification and the Green Card to the fingerprinting appointment. These fingerprints are run through the FBI's background check scanner.

After fingerprints are processed, applicants for United States citizenship will receive an appointment date with an address for their citizenship interview. This interview is conducted by a USCIS officer. During this interview, the USCIS officer will check through Form N-400 to make sure all of the answers are accurate. The next step during the citizenship interview is a test of the applicant's knowledge of U.S. civics and English. It is important to prepare for this part of the test as it will be graded with a pass or fail score. Not passing this test stalls the citizenship process.

Go to the Oath Ceremony
After the interview, applicants for U.S. citizenship will be notified about whether they were approved. Even after this approval, they are not U.S. citizens yet. They must attend the Oath Ceremony where they will take an oath and swear loyalty to the United States. During this Oath Ceremony, applicants are given a naturalization certificate showing they are officially United States citizens.