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Overview of the US Citizenship Process

18th May 2011
By Jessica Potter in Immigration Law
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Being a Citizen of the US is a matter of pride and prestige to many people. In spite of the time consuming nature of the process, people are not in the least deterred from filing their Citizenship application. They will do anything in their power to get that coveted title. In order to become a US Citizen quickly without any unwarranted delay, the applicant must have a thorough knowledge of the Citizenship Process before applying.

What Form must the applicant file to become a US Citizen?

The US Citizenship Forms are two in number
(i) N-400 (US Citizenship through naturalization)
(ii) N-600 (Certificate of Citizenship Through parents)
The applicant has to confirm the category under which he/she falls and then file the appropriate Citizenship Application.

What is Form N-400?

Green card holders who are over the age of 18 and who satisfy the eligibility requirements use this US Citizenship form to apply for Citizenship. N-400 should be filed along with photos and necessary supporting documents.

What is the eligibility criterion for N-400?

The applicant
Should be 18 years or older at the time of filing their Citizenship application
Should possess a valid Green Card for the past 5 years
Should have maintained continuous residence for at least five years in the US. This period refers to the 5 yrs that are preceding the time when the applicant files his/ her Citizenship application
Should have resided at their primary residence (for at least three months) and within the state where the US Citizenship Form is being submitted before filing the citizenship application.
Should be Fluent in English (Speak, Write and Read ordinary English) unless the applicant is inhibited to do so due to physical or mental impairment.
Should possess sufficient knowledge regarding the fundamentals of U.S. Government and its Constitution
Should exhibit good moral character

When can a Green Card holder file the Citizenship Application?

A Green Card holder may file the citizenship application if,

They are at least 18 yrs old
They have maintained the status of a permanent resident of the US - At least 5 yrs
They have maintained the status of a permanent resident of the US - At least 3 yrs if they are married to a US Citizen and continues to live with the U.S. Citizen spouse and if the applicant is currently serving in the U.S. military(with at least 1 year of service or within 6 months of discharge)
They are spouses of the U.S. military personnel who had served during a past war or currently commissioned abroad in combat Can file their citizenship application sooner than the above mentioned.

Exemptions in the Citizenship Process

Applicants are exempted from the normal procedural formalities of filing their Citizenship Application if they qualify under any of the below mentioned cases.
An applicant may acquire Citizenship without first qualifying as a Lawful Permanent Resident, if he/she has recorded honorable service, in the United States armed forces( during war)
An applicant may acquire Citizenship without first qualifying as a Lawful Permanent resident if he/she was in the US after being enlisted into the U.S. military.
Applicants who are over 50/55 years of age on the date of filing the Citizenship application and who have resided in the U.S. for a total of at least 20/15 years after gaining the status of a permanent resident are exempt from taking English test. This is referred to as the 50/20 exception or 55/15 exception.
The applicants still need to take the Civics test even if they get an exemption from the English Test.
Applicants who are 65 yrs or older and who have been a lawful permanent resident for at least 20 years at the time of filing their Citizenship Application will be given special consideration regarding the civics test.
Applicants may be exempted from the English and civics test if they have a physical impairment or developmental disability. Their impairment needs to be certified by a licensed doctor using Form N-648 ( Medical Certification for Disability Exceptions)
Applicants who are engaged in overseas employment may be eligible for an exception to the continuous residence criteria. People under the below mentioned category qualify for this exemption. They must file a Form N-470 to preserve residence with USCIS. Qualified U.S. Government employees get an exemption from the N-470 filing requirement also.
(i) Employees of the US government
(ii) Contractors of the US government
(iii) Recognized American research institutions
(iv)Public international organizations
(v) Organization falling under the International Immunities Act
Applicants with physical or mental impairments which make it difficult for them to complete their naturalization process are provided assistance by the USCIS. For this, the applicants need to list the needs that they require in their Citizenship Application.

Oath of Allegiance

In order that an applicant gets naturalized, taking an oath of allegiance in a public ceremony is the final step. The Oath must be taken before the Attorney General or a court.

Citizenship Application

US Citizenship Form

Immigration Direct

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