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What Is Naturalization?

Through the immigration process of naturalization, you can become a U.S. citizen. Naturalization is the only way to become a U.S. citizen if you were not born a U.S. citizen or did not acquire citizenship immediately after birth.

What Are the Benefits of Naturalization?

As a naturalized citizen you are awarded various privileges, such as the rights to:

  • Register and vote;
  • Hold a U.S. passport; and
  • Serve on a jury.

What Is Required to Become a Naturalized Citizen?

The basic requirements for naturalization include:

  • An ability to read, write, and speak English;
  • A knowledge and understanding of U.S. history and government;
  • A good moral character;
  • An attachment to the ideals of the U.S. Constitution;
  • A favorable disposition toward the U.S.; and
  • A continued residence or physical presence in the U.S. for a specified period.

What Is the Naturalization Process Like?

The naturalization process can take an average of six months from the time you apply. To ensure that your application is not returned to you before it is fully evaluated, be sure all of the information requested is included:

  • Submit an naturalization application
  • Have current photographs taken;
  • Have your fingerprints taken;
  • Be interviewed (after which you will know whether your application has been approved); and
  • Take the Oath of Allegiance (see below).

What Else Do I Need To Know About Naturalization?

Honesty is integral to the naturalization process. If you have convicted of a crime (even if the conviction has been expunged) the details must be disclosed to the USCIS. If you conceal or falsify information, the USCIS may deny your application.

Can I Be a Naturalized Citizen If I am In the U.S. Military?

If you are serving with the U.S. Armed Forces, you may apply for citizenship if you fulfill the required criteria. While certain conditions must be met for you to qualify, as a member of the U.S. Armed Forces you may be exempt from satisfying the required residency and physical presence obligations and from paying the naturalization filing fee.

What If My Naturalization Application Is Denied?

If you are denied naturalization, you can appeal and request an administrative review of your application, which consists of a hearing with an immigration officer. The details of this process and the requirements for paperwork (Form N-336) are disclosed in your denial letter. Additionally, you may be able to reapply at a later date. Although you will have already turned in a full application, you are still required to resubmit a new application form, pay the application fee, and retake your photographs and fingerprints.

What Are My Responsibilities Once I Become Naturalized?

All naturalized citizens are required to uphold certain duties pledged to in the Oath of Allegiance. The Oath is the final step to citizenship, and all applicants must promise to:

  • Give up allegiances to other countries;
  • Support and defend the U.S. Constitution and U.S. laws;
  • Swear allegiance to the U.S.; and
  • Serve the U.S. when required.

Do I Need an Immigration Lawyer?

An immigration attorney is in the best position to help you through the naturalization process and to answer any questions you may have about your citizenship status. A lawyer familiar with naturalization can help prepare for your interview and assemble the required documents for your naturalization application.

Photo of page author Ken LaMance

, LegalMatch Law Library Managing Editor and Attorney at Law

Last Modified: 03-05-2018 10:09 PM PST

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