Because you are already a lawful permanent resident of the United States, you know how complex and challenging any immigration process can be. You also know that, even after going through the process to obtain your green card, you still do not have all the benefits and protections of someone who is a citizen of the U.S.
If it is your desire to obtain your citizenship through the naturalization process, you may not be surprised to hear that, once again, you will be going through the complicated bureaucracy of the immigration system. However, many who successfully complete the work to obtain citizenship will attest that it is worth the effort.
Beginning your path to citizenship
Your first step in the naturalization process is determining if you are eligible. You must be at least 18 years old and a lawful permanent resident who has lived in the U.S. for at least three years. Additionally, you must have good moral character evidenced by your clean criminal record.
If you fit these and other standards, you can apply online or through the mail by completing an Application for Naturalization form N-400. To do this, be prepared to upload images of your green card, photos of yourself and other information as prompted. After you submit your application, you will receive appointment dates to give your biometrics (fingerprints and signature) and your interview. During your interview, you can expect to do the following:
- Answer questions based on the information you supplied on your application
- Complete the English test, which includes reading, writing and speaking
- Complete the civics test, which involves answering up to 10 questions about U.S. history and basic government in English
You may apply for exemptions from the English portion of the test under certain circumstances, and you may be eligible for other accommodations, depending on your age and health.
Completing the process
Once you have completed your tests, the agent will give you your results. If you pass, you will receive notification of the date of your Oath of Allegiance ceremony, which is usually a few weeks later. At this ceremony, you will pledge your loyalty to the United States and its Constitution. You are now a U.S. citizen, and the immigration offices will send you a certificate attesting to your success.
If you are not successful and immigration authorities deny your application, you should not give up hope. A skilled and experienced Texas attorney can advise you of your option to appeal. In fact, having the advice of an attorney at any point during your naturalization process can improve your chances of a successful bid for citizenship.