Naturalization is the process through which immigrants become citizens of the United States. To apply for naturalization, you should file Form N-400, Application for Naturalization with the USCIS.
Citizenship Application Form N – 400:
The citizenship application form, N – 400 has 14 parts, out of which applicants are required to fill 10. In the 11th section, you have to sign and date the application. You will be required to fill part 12 if someone else is preparing the application on your behalf. Part 13 and 14 will have to be filled at the time of your interview. So normally, you have to fill ten sections in the application.
The initial section is about your legal name. It is the name as it appears on your birth certificate unless it has been changed through marriage or court order. You can also opt for a name change while filing the citizenship application. But it will become effective only when a court naturalizes you. The next section is about your eligibility as a permanent resident. Other sections solicit information related to your date of birth, social security number and details about your green card. Additional information like the country of nationality and marital status are also asked in this section.
You will have to enter your contact information in section 4. In the following section, you need to enter details of the addresses you lived at during the past five years (including your stay overseas) and also give details of your employment. If you were a student, you need to list the schools where you studied during the last five years. Part 7 of your application is about all the trips you took outside the US in the last five years. This is followed by the marital status section. You will have to give information regarding your marital status and list all your prior marriages (divorced, annulled) and marital details of your spouse(s), if applicable. You should list details of your children, if any, in part 9 of the application.
Section 10 has important questions regarding your moral conduct. The citizenship application form has several questions about the applicant’s criminal history, if any. You have to be transparent and mention all offenses that you committed including any that has been removed from your record and any such incident which happened before your 18th birthday. If you do not mention about these offenses and the USCIS comes to know about it, your application may be rejected (even if the original offense was not a crime for which your case should be denied).
There are additional requirements to come out successful in the US citizenship process. You must be able to read, write, and speak basic English and also have basic knowledge of U.S. history and government (civics). But certain applicants, because of their age or disability have different English and civics requirements.
Certain supporting documents have to be sent along with your application. Documents that are in a foreign language have to be accompanied by a full English language translation, when submitted to USCIS. The translator should certify the translation as complete and accurate, and also submit a certification that he/she is competent enough to translate from the foreign language into English.
The submission fee for the citizenship application form is $595.00. Additionally, a biometric fee of $85.00 is needed. You may submit one check or money order for $680 for both the application and biometric fees. However, all naturalization applicants filing under the military provisions do not require a filing fee.
Applying for a green card :
There are different ways to get a permanent resident status. A family member who is a US citizen or permanent resident can sponsor you for a green card. Else, you can also get one through the Diversity Visa lottery program that is held every year. Approximately 55,000 applicants are randomly selected every year subject to certain eligibility conditions. You can also get a green card through employment. Here a qualified US employer needs to sponsor you. A person granted Refugee Status or Asylum may also apply for a Green Card. Like there are many ways to get a greencard, the process and procedures vary too.
Green card holders are known as lawful permanent residents (LPR). We need to understand that a green card is just a privilege and not a right as you may lose this status under a few circumstances. Plainly, it is not enough to just get a green card, you need to maintain it. Per immigration laws, you need to carry evidence of your status in the US at all times.
Benefits of being a green card holder :
As a green card holder, you can apply for government sponsored financial aid for educational purposes. You can pay less tuition fee in universities and colleges. This is also known as “in-state” tuition or “resident” tuition. Savings in most cases are three to four times lower than what foreigners pay. Additionally, as a green card holder, you are permitted to work in any company located in U.S. territory regardless of job function, hours/week, etc. except for some companies that only hire U.S. citizens. And you need not worry about employer sponsorship either. Some jobs require security clearance that only green card holders and U.S. citizens can get. Therefore, a green card provides more job opportunities.
Green card holders have the permission to start their own business and create own corporation. Social security is another benefit you will get when you retire, ie if you had worked for 10 years (40 quarters to be precise) before your retirement. Also, you can sponsor your spouse and unmarried minor children under 21 for them to get permanent resident status in the United States. In this case, the green card that you got for your family will still be valid even if you lose your job or pass away.
If you have a work permit, your spouse and minor unmarried children under 21 can stay in the U.S. as dependents. Even if you have a work permit, your kids have to get student visas to study and work visas to work. But, once they get a green card, they are allowed to stay in the U.S. even after turning 21 and even if they get married.
Another feature is that you will have access to security clearances. You will also be eligible for government grants and be exempted from export restrictions. You have the privilege of most legal rights under U.S. law, except for voting right which is only for U.S. citizens. You will be eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship at a later stage, once you fulfill the eligibility requirements needed while applying for US citizenship. It is not mandatory that you take U.S. Citizenship. You can be a green card holder forever. If your current country allows dual citizenship, you can get U.S. citizenship without giving up your current nationality.
Getting US citizenship is not only a privilege but also allows to enjoy the rights that are part of US citizenship. An individual can become a U.S. Citizen either through birth in the United States or through parents or grand parents who are citizens or through naturalization. To be more specific, he/she can become a U.S citizen either by acquisition of citizenship through birth to U.S citizen parents or obtain automatic derivation of US citizenship through naturalized parents or can obtain it through law.
The law states that to be eligible to apply for US citizenship application, it is very necessary to meet certain requirements, which is stated as follows:
- The immigrant should be age 18 or older
- The immigrant should be a permanent resident (has a Green Card) now and during all of the past 5 years.
- The immigrant should meet the Continuous and Permanent residence requirement, which means that the immigrant if married to a US citizen, then it is three years of permanent residency. It is that you have to be in marriage to a U.S citizen and should be living with that U.S citizen for the past 3 three years of your permanent residency. Or an immigrant must reside in the U.S. for a continuous period of five years after lawful admission to the U.S. as a permanent resident.
Apart form this, there are certain general requirements as well. The immigrant should have resided in his or her current state for at least 3 months, should not be involved in any crime, should be of good moral character, should speak, understand, read, and write simple English during an INS interview, should take an oath of allegiance to the United States. When all the above requirements are met, the immigrant can go ahead and apply for US citizenship application by filing the form N 400 .
Immigration form N 400:
While applying for Form N 400 application there are certain important aspects which should be considered. Like if a person who was born outside the US to the US citizen parents does not have to apply the form N 400. Further if the immigrant is above 50 years of age he/she does not have to take the English test and can take the civics test in his language of choice and if the immigrant is more than 65 years of age he/she does not have to take the English test and take a simpler version of the civics test in his language of choice
The Immigration Form N 400 is completely user friendly, where the user has to enter genuine details. It consists of different parts and all portions have to be completed. Any error while filling can lead to rejection of the application. The citizenship application packet should contain Form N-400, copy of the permanent residence card as evidence of lawful permanent residence, two passport style photographs, fees, and the required supporting documents. The instructions in the Form N 400 application is very clear and will guide how one has to enter details. Hence utmost care should be taken while filling the N 400 application, so that your application can be approved and you can later on enjoy the rights of being a citizen.