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So you have reviewed our article on naturalization and you believe you or a loved one may qualify for US citizenship. You may have also reviewed everything that you need to know about form N400. What comes next? In this article, we will be discussing the steps that a person need to take to become an American Citizen. Think of this article as a wikihow in applying for citizenship.

So you have reviewed our article on naturalization and you believe you or a loved one may qualify for US citizenship. You may have also reviewed everything that you need to know about form N400. What comes next? In this article, we will be discussing the steps that a person need to take to become an American Citizen. Think of this article as a wikihow in applying for citizenship.

Step 1: Do you have enough time to qualify?

Most people need to be a permanent resident (or LPR) for at least 5 years before applying for citizenship. However, there are several exemptions to this time requirement. For instance, people who gained their LPR status due to marriage to a USC can apply for citizenship after 3 years of LPR status. This counts even when they received the 2 year conditional permanent resident card. CPR’s can submit their N400 application while their removal of conditions is pending as long as they are married to a US Citizen and that is the basis for the application.

Step 2: Do you qualify for a fee waiver?

Some people do not have to pay the naturalization fee. For instance, military members and veterans seeking to naturalize do not have to pay the fee ($640 application and $85 biometrics fee). Additionally, some people do not have to pay the $85 biometrics fee. Per the instructions, these individuals are 75 or older. Lastly, some people may be unable to pay the fee altogether due to their low income or because they are receiving public benefits. There is a fee waiver application for these individuals. The form is I-912.

Please make sure that you read all the instructions of all the forms that you are submitting to make sure you are doing everything right.

Step 3: Do you qualify for the exam in your native language?

There are some individuals who may be able to naturalize and take the naturalization questions in their native language. It is a combination of years/the amount of time that they have been LPR’s. These are called the 50/20 and 55/15 exemption. So, if a person is over 50 years of age and has been a permanent resident for 20 years or more, they may qualify to take the exam in their native language. The same applies for those over 55 who have been residents for at least 15 years.  

There is an additional exemption to the English language requirements. If a person has been in the country for over 20 years and they are over 65 years of age, they may qualify to take a simplified civics test.  

Please be sure to check the appropriate boxes on the N400 application to take advantage of this exemption if you qualify.  

Step 4: Do you need a medical accommodation due to a disability?

Some people may require additional assistance. They could either be blind, deaf or hard of hearing, or have another illness altogether that does not allow them to learn the questions for the exam or English. For these reasons, a person may be able to request a medical accommodation and not have to take the exam. If a person wishes to do this, they would need to submit form N648. Please note that form N648 needs to be filled out by the primary care doctor for each illness that the applicant has. Some illnesses may not give the exemption to the applicant. For instance, if a person has gout, they may not qualify for an exam exemption because gout is not related to their ability (or inability) to learn English or civics. However, if someone has Alzheimer’s, this could be a different story. Please make sure that your doctor has checked the right boxes and has provided sufficient evidence showing that the exemption is warranted.

Step 5: Gather all paperwork for your application

What paperwork do you need? At least a back and front copy of your green card. Please read the instructions closely to make sure you have everything. USCIS created this checklist to make sure that applicants were submitting everything they needed. Please make sure you submit everything with your application to avoid getting a Request for Evidence or a Notice of Intent to Deny.

Step 6: Submit the application

Once you have everything ready, submit your application. Please make sure you submit all required evidence, payment or explanation for lack of payment with your application to avoid getting it rejected.

Step 7: Get your biometrics taken

Once your application has been submitted, you will receive a form 797 Notice of Action that will have your application case number, the date received, and other information that may be important to know. Please make sure you are reading all of these notice. Around 6-12 weeks after you submit the application, you should be receiving a biometrics notice. This means that you will be called in to a USCIS office where they will take your fingerprints and picture. If you miss this appointment or cannot make it, please make sure you follow the instructions on the form and reschedule. If you miss it, and do not let USCIS know that you won’t be going, you will receive a denial.

Step 8: Study for the citizenship, English and writing exam

While you are waiting for your biometrics and interview, you should study for the citizenship, English and writing exams. You can get sample materials from USCIS as to what you need to know. You can find the writing vocabulary here. You can find the civics test questions here. You can find the 65/20 exemption questions here. You can always take the practice test here to see how you are doing. All materials hyperlinked are in English; you may be able to find them in your language by going to USCIS.gov and searching for the civics materials. More information can be found here.

Step 9: Go to the naturalization interview

Again, it is very important that you read all USCIS notices. After a while, you will receive your naturalization interview date. Once you receive it, you should go to that interview. A USCIS officer will walk through your application with you. If you made any mistakes or errors, this is your chance to correct the record. Please do not make fraudulent applications. While a fraudulent application may be able to go through, USCIS may find out about the misrepresentations. This could form a basis to remove your citizenship in the future.

Step 9.5: If you did not pass the first time, go to your naturalization interview again!

If you failed your Civics, English or writing portion, you will have a second shot at taking the exam again! If you fail, you can reapply. However, the recommendation would be that you should take a class prior to restarting your application.

Step 10: Go to your naturalization ceremony

If you passed the exam, congratulations! The final step would be to go to your naturalization ceremony. Please take your green card with you, since you will need to hand it in to the people at the ceremony. Afterwards, you will be eligible to apply for your passport.

If you have any questions about the process, please do not hesitate to reach out to us to 630-324-6666 to speak with an experienced immigration attorney.

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