How and When to Apply for Citizenship
Naturalization is the process of conferring U.S. citizenship by immigrant, born outside of the U.S. Naturalized U.S. citizens share equally in the rights and privileges of U.S. citizenship. U.S. citizenship offers immigrants the ability to:
- Vote in Federal elections
- Travel with a U.S. Passport
- Run for elective office where citizenship is required
- Participate on a jury
- Become eligible for federal and certain law enforcement jobs
- Obtain certain State and Federal benefits not available to non-citizens
- Obtain citizenship for minor children born abroad
- Expand and expedite their ability to bring family members to the United States (reunite with parents, spouse, children, siblings, etc.)
In order for an immigrant to go through the naturalization process and receive mentioned above privileges, an immigrant has to meet certain requirements: (1) has to be a permanent resident, (2) over 18 years old and meet (3) continues residence and (4) physical presence requirements.
Process of Applying for Naturalization
- Application. Submitting an Application for Naturalization with supporting documents that may be required in applicant’s particular case and filing fee.
- Fingerpringting. After filing the application, USCIS will send an applicant notice of receipt and notice of an appointment for fingerprinting. Once the applicant is fingerprinted at the designated location, the USCIS will submit the fingerprint card to the FBI for a background check. If the applicant’s background check is clear, the applicant will be scheduled for an immigration interview with USCIS officer.
- Interview. On the interview date, USCIS officer will determine whether applicant meets all naturalization requirements. If the decision is favorable, then applicant is scheduled for swearing in date.
- Swearing in. You become a citizen after taking an oath. When you take the oath, you must promise to renounce foreign allegiances; support the Constitution; and serve the U.S. Army.
When to Apply for Naturalization
An applicant filing under the general naturalization provision may file his or her application up to 90 days before he or she would first meet the required 5-year period of continuous residence as a legal permanent resident. Although an applicant may file early according to the 90 day early filing provision, the applicant is not eligible for naturalization until he or she has reached the required 5 year period of continuous residence as a legal permanent resident.
USCIS calculates the early filing period by counting back 90 days from the day before the applicant would have first satisfied the continuous residence requirement for naturalization. For example, if the applicant would satisfy the five-year continuous residence requirement for the first time on June 10, 2015 USCIS will begin to calculate the 90-day early filing period from June 9, 2015. In such a case, the earliest that the applicant is allowed to file would be March 12, 2015 (90 calendar days earlier).
If you have additional questions about immigration to the United States, please contact us or schedule a consultation.