Anyone who wants to become a naturalized US citizen must go through the necessary steps to become a US citizen. To demonstrate an outline of the US citizenship process, the numbered points below briefly summarize each of the steps to US citizenship.
Step 1: Check Eligibility for US Citizenship
The first of the steps to becoming a US citizen is to determine if you are eligible to apply for US citizenship.
If you have had a valid green card for at least five years; have been the spouse of a US citizen for at least three years; have served in the U.S. military; or are the child of a U.S. citizen, then you may be eligible for citizenship. Some applicants must have a green card on the day of their citizenship interview.
Other requirements include residency, good moral character, knowledge of the English language and U.S. civics, and an attachment to the nation and the Constitution. More details about US Citizenship and Naturalization Eligibility.
Step 2: Complete Form N-400
The next step of the US citizenship process is to complete the US citizenship application. You must download and complete Application for Naturalization (N-400), filling it out completely. The application asks for information about current and past residences, your parents, current and past employment, education, time outside of the U.S., marital history, children, and numerous personal questions. Do not leave out any information, since an incomplete application will delay the naturalization process. At the naturalization interview, you may be asked questions based on your application, so be clear and honest. Keep a copy of the application with you.
Learn more about Filing Form N-400 Naturalization Application.
Step 3: Obtain 2 Color Photographs
The two identical photos of yourself must be U.S. passport sized (2 in x 2 in or 5 cm x 5 cm), in full color or black and white on a light/white background, and no head coverings unless for religious reasons. The photograph must be clear with a full front view of your face with the size of the head from chin to top-of-head and not smaller than 2 cm. The photo should also be taken no more than 30 days before you file Form N-400.
Step 4: Photocopy Documents
Your application must include a photocopy of your green card (front and back sides) and other documents required. Remember to send a copy and not the original. You will be required to bring the original documents with you to the naturalization interview. If there is any document that is not in English, get a translated version and attach that with the original document. If you have lost your green card and applied for a replacement, bring a photocopy of your receipt.
Step 5: Send Your Application Package
Send your application, fees, and documents to the appropriate service center. The fee for the application and fingerprinting is $680 USD and must be sent via check or money order.
Step 6: Get Fingerprinted
You will be contacted by USCIS once your application has been received with a time and place to have your fingerprints taken, which will be used for a criminal background check. Bring this letter, your green card, and another form of photo ID with you to the fingerprinting location.
Step 7: Attend Naturalization Interview
The final steps of becoming a US citizen take place during the naturalization interview.
You will be notified of the time and place of your interview, which may be rescheduled if necessary. USCIS recommends arriving at least 30 minutes early, and be sure to bring your green card; your passport (even if it's expired); your state-issued ID; and any re-entry permits you may have.
You will be asked questions about your application and background, your character, and your willingness to take an oath of allegiance to the U.S.
Step 8: Take English and Civics Test
During your US naturalization interview, you will be tested on your ability to read, write, and speak English, and on your knowledge of US civics.
Step 9: Wait for a Decision
After your interview, USCIS will provide you with a form with its decision and information about your results. The agency will either grant your citizenship request, continue your case (pending a second interview or additional documents), or deny your application. You may request a hearing with the USCIS (Form N-336) if you believe your application was unfairly denied.
Step 10: Take the Oath
If you are granted US citizenship, you must take the Oath of Allegiance to the United States. After taking the Oath, you will receive your Certificate of Naturalization and be a US citizen. Be sure to return your green card to USCIS when you check in for the Oath ceremony.
Once you have taken the Oath of Allegiance, you have completed the steps to become a US citizen and are finished with the US citizenship process.
To get started on the process of becoming a US citizen, read about US Naturalization for more details about your eligibility and the naturalization process.