It is absolutely easy to apply for citizenship if you are a permanent resident of the United States. You need to complete a form, pay the fee, attempt a citizenship test, and interview after confirming your eligibility.
Naturalization is the most common method of becoming a U.S. citizen for immigrants. Currently, the United States has approximately 8.8 million permanent residents eligible to naturalize.
Being a U.S. citizen, you are insulated from future problems in a contentious immigration environment. Furthermore, you will get several benefits in the form of increased job opportunities, student scholarships, fewer immigration fees, and many more.
Eligibility Criteria for Naturalization:
You are eligible to apply for citizenship after completion of five years of permanent residence in the U.S. Similarly, you can also stand in the circle of U.S. citizenship if you are married to and living with the U.S. citizen for at least three years or serving in armed forces from last one year. Before applying for citizenship, you are required to meet the following criteria;
- Must be 18 years old.
- Must be a green card holder (permanent resident) for at least five years.
- Before applying, you must have lived in the same state for at least three months.
- Before applying, you must have a continuous physical presence in the U.S. as a permanent resident for at least 30 months.
- Having ability to pass the naturalization exam (consists of English and civics tests).
- Indicates a high moral standard.
Applicants who fulfilled the above mentioned (five-year continuous residence) requirement, can submit their applications for up to 90 days.
Faster Naturalization Process:
Some individuals can have a quicker and easier path to get citizenship than permanent residents with a five-year residency in the U.S.
When married to a U.S. Citizen:
Your naturalization process may become simple and free of complications if you (a permanent resident) are married and have lived with a U.S. citizen for the last three years. Both you and your spouse must have been lived in the U.S. during the entire three-years period.
When you are military personnel, either currently or formerly:
Your naturalization eligibility may be affected by your status whether you’re currently serving or recently separated from the armed forces. Former military service personnel is also eligible for these benefits. In the United States, the armed forces consist of Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard, and National Guard.
Getting Ready to Apply:
You’ll need to complete the following items of citizenship application Form:
The Green Card (permanent residency card):
It shows the alien registration number and date of your permanent residency needed to fill the citizenship application form.
You should be aware of the type and category of the form includes; Form N-400 will be used if your green card has expired, and Form I-90 will be used if your green card has been lost, stolen, or destroyed.
Social Security Number (SSN):
A nine-digit number issued to U.S. citizens, permanent residents, and certain (working) non-immigrants.
The Social Security Administration issues the number to track individuals’ employment for Social Security benefits. SSN will be included in your naturalization application if employed for the cause as mentioned above.
During the five years preceding the application, if you traveled outside of the United States for more than 24 hours, you must document the dates of the trip in the naturalization application.
Note: You can better keep track of specific dates of travel from credit card statements, frequent flier records, and other receipts.
Selective Service Registration:
In U.S., the selective service registration is required for every male who falls in the age bracket of 18 to 26.
This requirement applies to all legal residents, including permanent residents, refugees, asylees, and undocumented immigrants.
In comparison, this requirement does not affect women and foreigners with non-immigrant visas (for example, tourists, students, and business travelers).
If you have failed to register as required, USCIS will likely deny your naturalization application because you didn’t meet the requirement for good moral character.
Residential Address for the last five years:
If you are married to a U.S. citizen, you must list your residential addresses where you lived for the past five years.
Employment and educational information for the past five years:
You must include your work and school details (organization name, address, dates, period) for the past five years or three years if you were married to a U.S. citizen during this time. The required detail about schooling and employment will be used for the background check.
Detail of current and former relationships (If applicable):
You are required to enter the detail (name, address, birth date, marriage date, immigration status, and the A-number) of your current spouse and any former spouses.
Detail of Children (If applicable):
You must also list your children’s names and contact information (even if they do not live with you).
While if they are currently living with you, you must provide their names, addresses, birth dates, birth country, and A-number.
Citizenship Application Form:
Form N-400 (Application for Naturalization) is used by USCIS to apply for citizenship. Your entire immigration history is mentioned in this 20-page Form.
To verify your eligibility requirements, USCIS will conduct your criminal background check and re-analysis of how you obtained permanent resident status. In this regard, you must provide accurate and truthful information throughout the process.
USCIS’ policies have recently been updated to make it easier for adjudicators to reject the applications rather than issue ‘Requests for Evidence (RFEs)’. Therefore, the complete application package is essential in which Form N-400 must be accompanied with the following documents/evidence;
Fees to the USCIS:
Typically, a general naturalization application costs $725, comprising $85 for biometrics and $640 for filing fees.
Over 75-years old applicants are not required to pay the biometrics fee. Similarly, those who apply based on military service will receive a fee waiver from USCIS.
A copy of the Permanent Resident Card:
You are required to provide a copy of your green card printed on both sides. While in case of absence of a green card, you must provide a copy of your I-797C from your green card renewal or other proof of your permanent residency.
Marriage Status Document:
You must provide evidence of your marriage, such as your current marriage certificate, divorce decree, annulment decree, or death certificate from your ex-spouse.
These are the typical items needed to support your application. Based on your case, USCIS may require some additional documents.
How to obtain citizenship with an expired green card:
Even if your green card has expired, you may be able to apply for citizenship. Though, USCIS does not encourage this practice. You may also have trouble traveling abroad, taking a new job, or renewing your driver’s license. Therefore, people preferred to put requests first for card renewal.
You do not have to wait 10-12 months for your new green card before applying for citizenship if you renew your green card. Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, can be filed once you have received the I-797C Notice of Action (usually two weeks after filing). A photocopy of your I-797C receipt letter proves that you have initiated the renewal process.