How to apply for citizenship
Do you want to learn how to apply for citizenship?
Before you learn how to apply for citizenship, you need to find out: are you eligible to become a US citizen?
Before you learn how to apply for citizenship, you should make sure you are eligible. In order to apply for citizenship, you must generally meet the following requirements:
- You must be at least 18 years old.
- For most people, you must have lived in the United States for at least five years as a resident. However, if your husband or wife is a citizen, you may be able to apply after three years. You can read more about eligibility for spouses here.
- You need to have lived in the same location for the past three months.
- You must have no major criminal activity. Small offenses like a traffic ticket are okay, but you cannot be convicted of any major crimes. Always be honest about this because most small crimes are okay but if you lie on your application, this can make your application get rejected.
- You must study and learn about the United States government, economy, and history so that you can pass the Civics exam.
- You must be able to read, write, speak and listen in English. There are some exceptions for elderly individuals who have lived in the United States for a long time. Y0u can read about the exceptions here.
- People who have served in the armed forces of the United States may be eligible to apply for citizenship. You can learn more about eligibility through service here.
- We recommend you look at this eligibility document from the United States Government and take the quiz to see if you are eligible to apply for citizenship.
How to apply for citizenship
Applying for citizenship can be very confusing. If possible, we recommend you have a lawyer help you. Here is a link to help low-income immigrants find immigration lawyers.
1. The first step is to complete the N-400. You have to include many papers with the application and you also have to pay the fee. Here is a link to the things you need to include when you mail your N-400 application. You have to include two passport photos with your application. Remember to write your “A-number” on the back of these photos. Some people can apply for a fee waiver so you do not have to pay the fee. If you are filling out your paperwork without a lawyer, here is a free website, CitizenshipWorks.org, that you can use to complete your application. They will review it to see if you have any problems.
2. You will receive a letter of receipt that says USCIS received your application. Keep this and write down the 13-digit receipt number. Take a photo of the receipt on your phone and email it to yourself to make sure you don’t lose it. You can use the receipt number to check the status of your application on the USCIS website here.
3. Complete your biometric screening. This is a security check. You will be asked to go to an office at a certain day and time. Make sure to go to this appointment and to arrive on time! At the appointment, they will take your fingerprints. This means they will stamp your fingerprints and run the picture through a system to make sure you are not a criminal.
4. Complete an interview with a United States Citizenship and Immigration Officer. Learn more about the Naturalization interview.
5. You will also have to take a Civics exam on US history and government. On this exam, you must answer 6 out of 10 questions correctly about US Civics, History and Government. You can take our citizenship practice quiz to see if you are ready for the exam. If you are not ready, you can join our free citizenship class to prepare you for the exam.
6. You will receive a written decision from USCIS about your application. You might receive your decision on the day of your interview or you might receive it later in the mail. The decision will be say if your application was:
- Granted (this means you passed!)
- Continued (this means USCIS is doing more research about you or it means you might have failed the English or Civics exams. You can take them again.)
- Denied (this means USCIS decided you are not eligible for naturalization. If this happens, you may be able to petition.)
If you did pass, you will be ready to complete your citizenship ceremony and take the Oath of Allegiance. This means you pledge loyalty to the USA.
If you have questions about the process, there are organization you can call. These organization offer advice in some newcomer languages.
We hoped this helped answer your question about how to apply for citizenship. Sign up below to take our free citizenship preparation classes. You can take them online, anywhere, anytime!
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