In the vast majority of cases, the path to citizenship in the United States goes through permanent resident status (green card holder). In other words, you generally must become a permanent resident before you can naturalize as a U.S. citizen. Therefore, to discuss the various paths to U.S. citizenship, we must illustrate the different ways to get to green card status.
Most people arrive in the U.S. and become permanent residents through family-based immigration. However, eligibility can also be derived from employment, asylum/refugee status and certain humanitarian reasons. There are even paths to citizenship for certain individuals currently with DACA, TPS or no status (undocumented). After becoming a permanent resident, the majority of citizenship applicants qualify for naturalization based on five years of continuous residence.
Under current law, the vast majority of people born in the United States and its territories are born as U.S. citizens. But that isn’t true for everyone. Today, individuals born in American Samoa and Swains Island are generally U.S. nationals. Over the course of U.S. history (and depending on the law at that time), some individuals born in U.S. possessions were born U.S. nationals that do not have the same rights, duties and benefits as U.S. citizens.
However, U.S. nationals who wish to become U.S. citizens have a fairly straight forward path. After establishing residence in a U.S. state, U.S. nationals may generally file an application to naturalize as a citizen.
How to prepare for your test and interview after filing Form N-400
The naturalization interview is the final obstacle for permanent residents that have filed Form N-400 to become U.S. citizens. Near the end of the N-400 processing time line, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will mail you an appointment notice for the naturalization interview. If everything goes well, you will most likely know if USCIS will grant you U.S. citizenship by the end of the appointment.
Many people are carrying an expired green card right now. Because you don’t use your card everyday, it’s easy for an expired card to go unnoticed. By law, permanent residents must carry a valid green card at all times. But in practice, this rarely happens and is rarely enforced by the U.S. government.
When a green card expires, it’s natural to procrastinate before renewing it. After all, the USCIS fee to renew or replace a green card is currently $540. That’s a lot of money for anyone. But an expired green card does have consequences that can be even more costly. Continue reading →
The naturalization process is the path through which a foreign national can voluntarily become a U.S. citizen. In order to begin the naturalization process, an applicant must first meet several requirements. Then, he or she must file an application for naturalization, attend an interview, and pass an English and a civics test.
Nearly 823,000 permanent residents filed an application to naturalize in the previous 12 months according to USCIS data. In fact, nearly a million people become naturalized U.S. citizens each year.
You’ve decided that it may be time to apply for U.S. citizenship, but you also realize that your green card is expired. You’ve heard that you can’t apply for citizenship with an expired green card. Worse yet, the cost to renew your card and then apply for citizenship is too much.
Currently, the USCIS fees to renew a green card are $540. Then, the USCIS fees to apply for naturalization are currently $725. That’s $1,265 in fees to do both.
For most people, this cost is a barrier to applying for U.S. citizenship with an expired green card. But it’s not mandatory to renew an expired green card before applying for citizenship. Continue reading →
With 20 pages of questions (and another 18 pages of instructions), filling out the application for U.S. citizenship can be intimidating for many applicants.
Officially known as Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, the majority of applicants can prepare the application without extensive help from an attorney. If you have a straight forward case, you can probably do it yourself.
If you’re ready to tackle the application for U.S. citizenship by yourself, go to the website for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) at www.uscis.gov/n-400/ to download Form N-400 and the filing instructions.
If you want some extra support and the reassurance that you’re doing everything correctly, Continue reading →
U.S. citizenship is perhaps the greatest benefit any immigrant can receive. It is often the pinnacle of a long journey over many years and many miles. Over 2.2 million permanent residents have naturalized as U.S. citizens in the past three years.
However, during the same period, over 261,000 permanent residents had their Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, denied. In fact, the number of denials increased in every quarter of fiscal year 2018 under the Trump administration. There are many reasons for this. We’ve compiled a list of the five common reasons for a continuation or denial of a Form N-400 application. Continue reading →
The application to apply for U.S. citizenship through naturalization, officially known as Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, is one of the longest and most involved forms that most immigrants will ever use. However, with a little preparation, you can complete the application on your own. There are several supporting documents that you’ll need to submit with the N-400 application or have available for reference. We’ve put together an N-400 document checklist and an overview that addresses the frequently asked questions about these documents. Once you are prepared, filling out the U.S. citizenship application can be a quick process.
When applying for U.S. citizenship via naturalization, English and civics tests get much of the attention. But permanent residents often do not understand how travel abroad can affect their eligibility for naturalization.
Two related but separate requirements, continuous residence and physical presence, must be satisfied for one to be eligible to file Form N-400, Application for Naturalization. Excessive travel abroad can adversely affect eligibility. Excessive travel can include one long trip or the accumulation of several trips over the period that precedes your admission as a U.S. citizen. Continue reading →