Ever wonder how people who are not born in the U.S. become citizens?
Naturalization is the process for people not born in the U.S. to voluntarily become US citizens. Before even beginning the application process, there are many prerequisites that must be met:
• Applicant is at least 18 years old at the time of filing N-400 (Form for Naturalization)
• Be a green card holder for at least 5 years
• Demonstrate at least 3 months of residency in the state or USCIS district where applicant is applying
• Be able to prove continuous residence in the United States for at least 5 years before the filing date of the N-400 (With physical presence in the US for at least 30 months of those 5 years)
• Ability to ready, write, and speak basic English
• Demonstrate a basic understanding of United States’ history and government
• Person with good moral character
• Prove an attachment to the principles and ideals of the U.S. Constitution
If you are able to fulfill all the above requirements, you are able to get started on the application. During the naturalization process of becoming a U.S. citizen, each applicant will inevitably go through many test with a USCIS officer. The USCIS officer will ask detailed questions about the applicants’ character, background, and intentions.
The Department of Homeland Security goes through this complex process in order to protect the country from security threats. These questions are meant to screen and evaluate an individual’s characters and understanding of the U.S. These officers are looking for individuals who not only understand American values, but lives by them.
It is highly advised to consult a legal counsel before your first interview because first impressions are crucial. In many cases, clients who have opted out of lawyers and then tried and failed their interviews have had much more difficult experiences afterwards because the consular office will already have a bad impression. Not knowing what and how to say the correct answers will greatly diminish an applicant’s success.
In other words, one should only take the test and attempt interviews if they are 100% prepared.
Besides the interview, the naturalization process includes an English test that comprises of 3 different sections: Reading, Writing, and Speaking. Each section of the test will evaluate candidates for different qualities that the USCIS deems important for US citizens.
The reading portion will ask an applicant to read aloud one of three sentences, in order to show his or her ability to read English. There are many sources online to help applicant’s practice their reading skills. Also, keep in mind that the past reading tests have mainly focused on civics and history topics, so it would be wise to practice reading those types of material.
The writing portion will ask an applicant to write one out of three sentences correctly to demonstrate an ability to write in English. Again, the past writing portions have also focused on civics and history topics as their main themes. In addition, online resources are always a great start to preparing for this test.
Lastly, the speaking portion of the test makes up the third section of the English test. In the speaking portion, an USCIS officer will evaluate one’s speaking skills during the interview process. This type of assessment is much more subjective, so it is necessary to consult legal professionals when preparing for this portion.
After completing the English test, the applicant will only have one more assessment left: the civics test. The civics test will take place in an applicant’s interview with the USCIS officer. In this interview, the USCIS officer will ask up to 10 questions out of a 100-question bank. In this series of 10 questions, the applicant must answer at least 6 of the 10 question correctly in order to pass.
The USCIS understands that the nature of the test may be unfair for certain test takers. Consequently, there are many exemptions (i.e. 50/20 & 55/15 rule) that will allow some portions of the test to be altered or deleted. If you think you qualify for an exemption, you should definitely consult your lawyer about your available options.
The US naturalization process is most definitely not easy. It requires lots of preparation, time, studying, and expert advice. In order to save time, money, and effort, it is important consult legal experts in the field of immigration. Experts will be able to use their experience and knowledge to guide you through the entire process, making your application for US citizenship the best it could be.
This is an immigration legal blog. It is not intended to be used as legal advice.
For further information please contact the law offices of attorney Ramona Kennedy.
Ms. Ramona Kennedy received her Jurisprudence Doctorate in America and is a licensed attorney in California (USA). Ramona Kennedy is a member of American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA).
She is licensed to practice in the United States Supreme Court, US Immigration Courts, California Federal Courts of Southern & Central District & All California Courts. Ramona Kennedy is fluent in English and Farsi (reading & writing).
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