Everything You Need To Know About The Process Of Becoming A United States Citizen

March 10, 2023

The United States of America is known around the world for its democratic leadership and being a pioneer of freedom for all. To that end, many long-term residents wish to make the official switch to becoming a U.S. citizen. This process typically takes years to complete, so learning the steps to become a citizen is best done earlier on in your interests. 

How to know if you are already a citizen

Believe it or not, some people are already citizens any may have never connected the dots before. In the United States, a person is automatically made a citizen of the country if the following applies to them:

  • You were born in the United States or applicable owned territories
  • You were born when a parent or both parents were citizens of the United States
  • You were born outside of the United States, but one or both your parents are citizens of the United States and held a residence in the country prior to your birth

The above three methods of automatically becoming a citizen of the United States are referred to as citizenship by birth. The secondary path to becoming a citizen in the United States is called citizenship by naturalization and is how the majority of immigrants become citizens in the country.

Steps to become a U.S. citizen

As outlined by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) government entity, there are five primary steps that must be followed in order to become a citizen by naturalization:

  1. Determine your eligibility

First and foremost, a person needs to determine if they are even eligible for citizenship in the country. In general, the primary requirements are that you must be 18 years old and must have been a permanent resident in the country for five years. Being a permanent resident for only three years is acceptable if you are married to a citizen. Alternatively, you may be eligible for citizenship based on military activity, so check those specific eligibility requirements before applying. 

  1. Prepare an application for naturalization form (N-400)

The application for citizenship through naturalization is called an N-400 and will need to be filed to get the process going. You will need to show evidence that you are eligible to apply for citizenship and may need to take two passport style photos depending on what information you provide. 

  1. Submit your application and submit background check information

Once all your information has been gathered, you can submit the application and pay any applicable filing fees. From this point, you may be required to submit fingerprint copies for background check purposes. 

  1. Complete an interview involving an English and Civics test

Once your application has been reviewed, you may be contacted to conduct an interview with an official from the USCIS entity. During this interview, you will also have to take an English exam along with a Civics test that covers important topics about American history. 

  1. Take the Oath of Allegiance to the United States

Finally, if you are approved to become a citizen of the United States, you will be assigned a location and time to pledge your allegiance to the country. This sort of graduation ceremony is mandatory, and a person is not a citizen until they recite the Oath of Allegiance to the United States.  

Benefits of becoming a United States citizen

For those who live as a permanent resident in the country or for those who have previously considered becoming a citizen of the country, you may have wondered if the lengthy and arduous process is actually worth it. There are a number of benefits afforded to United States citizens, with the most notable benefits being:

  • Protection from deportation
  • Citizenship for your children if you have any afterwards
  • Eligibility for government jobs
  • Voting rights
  • Freedom to travel
  • It’s less expensive in the long run
  • You can petition to bring your family into the United States
  • You can run for public office in the country 
  • You can gain access to certain tax law benefits
  • You are eligible for federal grants for schooling or other purposes

Determine if citizenship is right for you

Becoming a citizen of the United States can open up the door to a number of opportunities that you may have never realized before. Take advantage of these benefits by following the outlined steps above to get the ball rolling on your citizenship journey to see if you are eligible to apply. 

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Andi Perullo de Ledesma

I am Andi Perullo de Ledesma, a Chinese Medicine Doctor and Travel Photojournalist in Charlotte, NC. I am also wife to Lucas and mother to Joaquín. Follow us as we explore life and the world one beautiful adventure at a time.

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