Naturalization & Citizenship

Put simply, Naturalization means becoming a U.S. citizen. This is in contrast to the process of showing you are already a citizen through parents, either by acquisition at birth or derivation as a minor. Naturalization is accomplished by filing Form N-400 with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s sub-agency, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). It is a lengthy and expensive form. At the time of this writing, many USCIS Field Offices around the U.S. are predicting waiting times up to 36 months. The form itself costs $725 but will increase to $1,160 on October 2, 2020.

Eligibility Requirements for Naturalization

  • Be a lawful permanent resident (“green card holder”) for five years, or three years if married to a U.S. citizen
  • Be physically present in the United States for over half of the required residency period
  • Have taken no trips outside the U.S. that lasted six months or longer during the required residency period (with some limited exceptions)
  • Be a person of “good moral character”
  • Swear an oath to the United States
  • Demonstrate your ability to speak, read and write basic English (with some limited exceptions)
  • Pass a simple test in U.S. history and civics

Naturalization Process

  • Determine if you are eligible for Naturalization (perhaps you are already a U.S. citizen — if so, and you file for Naturalization, your N-400 will be denied)
  • Prepare and file Form N-400
  • Complete “biometrics” (short appointment at your local USCIS Field Office for fingerprinting and photo)
  • Attend a Naturalization interview where you will be asked the questions that appear on your N-400 and take the history/civics test
  • Take the oath of allegiance
  • Be sworn in as a new Naturalized U.S. citizen and receive your Certificate of Naturalization

Naturalization Resources