Becoming a United States citizen is one of the most important decisions you will ever make. If you have live in the United States as a permanent resident for years, you may qualify to apply for U.S. citizenship through a process called naturalization.
If you qualify to apply for naturalization after meeting the requirements for becoming a U.S. citizen, you can begin the process through U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
This government agency will open a case for you in which they will store and keep track of your application and all relevant documents and correspondence.
You will also need to pay a fee, undergo a security process of fingerprinting and criminal background checks, followed by an interview.
USCIS interview phase
After you complete the application, USCIS will send you a letter asking you to report to your local USCIS office at a specific date and time for an appointment, where a USCIS officer will answer any questions you have about the application process and interview you. You will also be required to take an English and civics test unless you are exempt from taking it.
Sometimes, the USCIS makes decisions on cases the day of the interview, although in others, the officer will need more time to work on your case. If the officer does not decide on that day, they may require additional documentation or a second interview.
English and civics test
During the English portion of the test, you must show an ability to read, write and speak basic English.
The civics test includes questions about American history and knowledge of the U.S. government.
You have two chances to take the test. If you fail any of the tests on the day of your appointment, you will have another opportunity to test after two or three months, and you will only need to retake the portion of the test that you failed.
The decision to become a U.S. citizen is complex and requires careful thought. Once you have moved forward with your application, if you qualify to apply, you must understand the process, be patient and prepare appropriately before every appointment, interview and test.