Becoming a U.S. citizen is a big step for many immigrants.
While holding a Green Card allows someone to stay in the U.S. permanently, there are certain tangible and intangible benefits of becoming a U.S. citizen.
Some tangible benefits include having the right to vote, having the ability to hold public office, and being able to extend citizenship to your family members. Some intangible benefits of citizenship include finally being able to tell others that you are an American with all that it entails.
Becoming a U.S. citizenship is a complicated and time-consuming process. Here are three general steps you should know about becoming a U.S. citizen:
- Qualify to Become a U.S. Citizen. Not every immigrant in the U.S. is eligible to become a citizen. Instead, an immigrant typically needs to have a Green Card, be at least 18 years of age, lived in the U.S. for at least five years, have a good moral character, and be able to read, write and speak English.
- Complete the Application Process. Even if you are qualified to become a U.S. citizen, you still must formally apply and pay the fees to become one. Generally, you will need to complete the Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, and provide supporting materials and be fingerprinted. After you send in all the required documents, you will still need to interview with a government official where you will be asked questions about your application and background.
- Pass a Test. Assuming all goes well with the interview, you will then need to pass an English and civics test. You will be tested on your ability to read, write, and speak English, as well as your understanding and knowledge of U.S. history and government. Even for current U.S. citizens, the civics portion of the test can be challenging
Becoming a U.S. citizen is not a quick and easy process. If you have questions along the way, it is critical to work with an experienced immigration attorney.
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