Citizenship through the Naturalization Process
Many foreigners coming to the US eventually want to become US Citizens. The way to become a US citizen if the foreigner was not born in the US is through the process called Naturalization. It is important to note, however, that this is not a requirement. A person who is within the US as a legal permanent resident can remain here permanently without ever becoming a US citizen. To become a US citizen, a foreigner must meet certain specific requirements.
The requirements are: 1) the individual must be a lawful permanent resident; 2) the person must have continuously resided in the US for five years prior to filing the naturalization application (or three years if married to a US citizen); 3) the foreigner must have been physically present in the US for a total of one-half of the residence period explained in (2) above; 4) they must have the ability to read, write and speak English; 5) they must have a basic knowledge of US government and history; 6) they must be of good moral character and 7) be at least 18 years old at the time of filing the application.
A foreigner who seeks citizenship does so by filing an application for Naturalization (N-400) form with the Immigration Service with the required documents. Once it has been reviewed by the Immigration Service, the Immigration Service sends out a Receipt Notice stating that the application was accepted. Then, a Notice for fingerprints is issued. It usually takes several months before the Immigration Service sends out the notice for Fingerprinting.
Once the fingerprinting is done and the security checks are completed, the applicant must wait for a notification from the Immigration Service regarding the interview to be held at the local office. At the interview, the foreigner verifies all information in the application, is tested on the ability to speak, read and write English and knowledge of US government. The decision to approve the application is usually made right after the interview unless there are additional documents or evidence required.
After approval the applicant will receive a notification date for a ceremony to take the Oath of naturalization where he/she will receive the Certificate of Naturalization. If denied, the applicant may request a review of the denial and it may be appealed to a federal court. It is recommended for a naturalized citizen to apply for a U.S. passport soon after the naturalization ceremony. The passport can serve as an evidence of Citizenship and can be applied for at most post offices.