US Immigration: Frequently Asked Questions

How do I become a naturalized citizen?

The process for naturalization begins with proper paperwork. Adults must submit an Application for Naturalization (form N-400). Children under the age of18 are required to apply for Certification of Citizenship (form N-600). Finally, adopted children from a foreign country must have a Certification of Citizenship on behalf of an Adopted Child (form N-463.)

What are the naturalization requirements?

According to the U. S. Citizenship Library, naturalization requirements depend on eligibility.  Therefore, hopeful immigrants are asked to take the “Eligibility Test for Citizenship”. Based on the results, requirements are determined as follows:

  • Green card holder
  • At least 18 years of age
  • U. S. resident for 5 years, or 3 years if married to a citizen
  • Good moral character
  • Resident of current state for at least 3 months
  • Knowledge of U. S. history and government
  • Knowledge of English
  • Did not leave the United States for more than a year during residency requirement
Do you or your loved ones have immigration questions? Contact an immigration lawyer to help in your application for naturalization and permanent residency today.

How long before naturalization occurs?

Processing time for naturalization varies for individual cases. In 1997, under the umbrella of the Immigration and Naturalization Services, many people have waited two years. Since 2001, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services reports most future citizens complete the process in 6-9 months.  Working with a competent immigration lawyer will efficiently help immigrants prepare an individually tailored strategy to quickest methods to garner their own personal naturalization, as well as that of their families too.

What if the application is denied?

If naturalization citizenship application is denied, the immigrant will receive a letter explaining why he or she cannot become an American and will not receive a naturalization certificate. However, the individual is allowed the opportunity to appeal the decision. The proper form is included with the denial, and the process for requesting an appeal hearing is explained.  Fortunately for immigrants, there is no maximum number of appeals or applications one can file, so the possibility for an immigrant to naturalize at a future date is always possible.

When does permanent residency begin?

Once granted, immigrants will receive a permanent residency card.  The permanent residency card is essentially the size of a credit card, and the document will have the specific data required on the front including dates and other identifying information.  Commonly, these cards are referred to as “Green Cards”. Green cards have an expiration date, so it may be necessary to renew green card.

Are accommodations made for the disabled?

Disability does not affect eligibility. The deaf can request a sign language interpreter.  Wheelchair accessible buildings offer fingerprinting or meet other requirements of the process. The need for special services is determined with each individual case, however, reasonable accommodations must be legally made for individuals with documentable conditions affecting their ability to take the naturalization test, including mental or other learning handicaps. 

Can the application status be verified?

Depending on the residency of the applicant, four phone numbers are available to call and check on the status of the citizenship process.  For example, an individual living in, or near, California will choose that number for verification.

Becoming a citizen of the United States can be confusing and stressful, but immigrants do not have to face these challenges alone.  Help is widely available to better understand the requirements, forms, and process.  By using an immigration lawyer to answer and solve your immigration questions, some of the uncertainty of living in a foreign country can be alleviated.  In addition, given the nature of what is at stake during an immigration and naturalization application, ensuring all the proper paperwork, documentation, and payments are made is essential to anyone wishing to naturalize as a citizen of the United States.

Do you or your loved ones have immigration questions?  Contact an immigration lawyer to help in your application for naturalization and permanent residency today.

Also see Overview of US Immigration Process.