N-400, Application for Naturalization (Application for Citizenship)
Not everyone is considered eligible to apply for United State citizenship. In some cases, if one is not a citizen by being born in the U.S., citizenship can also be acquired through one’s parents automatically after birth. However, those who do not meet the following criteria must determine whether they are eligible to become a U.S. citizen through the naturalization process. Some requirements for eligibility include:
• Being over the age of 18
• You have been a permanent resident of the United States for at least three years
• You have not been left the United States for 30 months or more in the last five years or for more than one year in some cases
• You have lived in the state in which you are applying for citizenship for at least the last three months
• You can read, write, and speak basic English
• You understand the basics of U.S. history and how the U.S. government functions
• You are considered to be “a person of good moral character”
• You have never deserted, or received an exemption or discharge from the U.S. Armed Forces
• You are willing to perform either military or civilian service for the U.S. if required by law.
• You promise to support the Constitution of the United States and are willing to take an oath to the United States
If you do not meet one or more of these requirements, there are exceptions that may still consider you eligible for naturalization. If you determine that you meet the requirements for eligibility, the next step is to prepare the N-400 form which is the application for naturalization or citizenship. This form must be accompanied by a photocopy of both sides of your Permanent Resident Card (Green Card), a check or money order for the application and biometric services fees, and if you do not currently reside in the United States, you will be required to submit two identical color photos, with your name and Alien Registration Number written on the back. For specific cases such as applying for naturalization on the basis of marriage to a U.S. citizen or for performing military services, additional forms and documents will be required. If you choose to have an attorney guide you through the process, you must file a Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney or Representative (Form G-28).
After submitting the form and the documents along with it, you will be required to attend a biometrics appointment, where your fingerprints, photo, and signature will be collected. You will then be scheduled for an interview to complete the process after which you will receive a decision. There are three decisions United States Citizenship and Immigration Services may make:
1. Granted. This means that you have successfully become eligible for naturalization.
2. Continued. This means that you may need to provide additional documents, further investigation is required, or you had failed the English or civics test.
3. Denied. This means that you were found to be ineligible for naturalization.
If your naturalization eligibility has been granted, you will be expected to take the Oath of Allegiance, which could happen the same day as your interview. Upon completing the Oath you will receive a Certificate of Naturalization. It is important to carefully review the certificate before leaving, to prevent any errors and future complications.
Applying for naturalization can be a long and complicated process, so it is important to consult with an immigration attorney who can assist you. The Suffolk County lawyers at Larry McCord and Associates are experienced in helping clients file the N-400 form and have helped many achieve citizenship status. For more information or to schedule a consultation, please call (631) 643-3084.