In this article...

In this article, we will be discussing information concerning the way to apply for naturalization. Namely, we will discuss the following subjects:

  • Quick refresher on naturalization.
  • How do you apply for citizenship?
  • What are the application fees?
  • What is a good N400 checklist?
  • How long will I have to wait for my naturalization interview?
  • Can I take the citizenship exam in my own language?
  • Can I take the simplified citizenship exam?

So you have reviewed our article on naturalization and you believe you or a loved one may qualify for US citizenship. What comes next? In this article, we will be discussing information concerning the way to apply for naturalization. Namely, we will discuss the following subjects:

  • Quick refresher on naturalization.
  • How do you apply for citizenship?
  • What are the application fees?
  • What is a good N400 checklist?
  • How long will I have to wait for my naturalization interview?
  • Can I take the citizenship exam in my own language?
  • Can I take the simplified citizenship exam?
  • What can I do to know more?

Applying for citizenship is a right reserved to legal permanent residents who have good moral character and meet other requirements. If you think there might be a reason why your application is not that straightforward or you want to discuss your case with an immigration attorney, please do not hesitate to reach out to 630-324-6666 to make an appointment.

Quick refresher on naturalization

Naturalization is essentially the way a non US citizen becomes a citizen of the US. It is a process by which the noncitizen tells the US government that they are willing to renounce all foreign loyalties and become a US citizen. Unless you are already a U.S. citizen, naturalization is the only method for obtaining citizenship within the United States. However, before starting the naturalization process you must first meet a specific set of requirements, including being a lawful permanent resident (having your green card). Not everyone will be eligible, while some will already have their citizenship and not even be aware. 

How do you apply for citizenship?

A legal permanent resident that meets certain requirements can apply for citizenship using form N400. The requirements are namely being a legal permanent resident with the prerequisite amount of time, usually 3 or 5 years; having resided in the USA for 30 out of the last 60 months; having good moral character; have not committed any crime that may limit your ability to become a citizen; be able to read, speak and write basic English; demonstrate basis US history and civics knowledge; be willing to demonstrate loyalty to the US constitution and be willing to take the oath of allegiance.  Here is more information from USCIS.

This is the only way in which a permanent resident can petition the US government to become a citizen. With this form, a person provides the US government with their immigration information, whether they have been a resident of good moral character, whether any crimes have been committed, who are your family members (this is very important for reasons of family petitions), whether the applicant has paid all requisite taxes, and whether the applicant is willing to support for the US government in times of need.  

Please try to answer all questions in form N400. Here, you can find the instructions for the form. Please read them carefully. If you do not remember the answer to a question or you do not know the answer, please fill in the form with “I do not recall” or “I don’t know.” If a question does not apply to you and it gives you space to answer, you may need to answer “N/A” or does not apply. However, you need to answer all questions truthfully.

Please make sure to answer all questions as truthfully as you can. If US Citizenship and Immigration Services has reason to believe that you were untruthful, they can claw back the applicant’s naturalization through a process called denaturalization. After the citizenship has been stripped, the person will be placed in removal proceedings to remove their green card and remove the person from the Country. It is of utmost importance to not submit fraudulently information.  

If you are filling out form N400 and have questions about how to answer, please do not hesitate to reach out to 630-324-6666 to schedule an intake with one of our immigration attorneys.

What are the application fees?

The fees for the N400 are $640 for the application fee and $85 for the biometrics fee. Some people do not have to pay the $85 biometrics fee. Please read the instructions carefully to make sure you need to pay this fee. If you end up paying the fee and did not need to, USCIS will not refund you the additional funding. If you do not qualify for a biometrics fee waiver and you do not pay the $85, USCIS will reject your application. If you cannot afford the cost of the application, you can apply for a fee waiver.

If you are younger than 18 years of age, you do not need to apply for citizenship. Once one of your parents becomes a citizen, you will gain automatic citizenship. You can then attempt to receive a certificate of citizenship by applying using form N600.

What is a good N400 checklist?

USCIS has the following checklist:  

  • A copy of your Permanent Resident Card
  • A copy of your marriage certificate (if applicable)
  • Form N-426, Request for Certification of Military or Naval Service (if applying for naturalization based on military service)
  • DD Form 214, NGB Form 22, or discharge orders (if applying for naturalization based on military service and separated from service)
  • A copy of your official military orders (if applying for naturalization based on military service and currently serving)
  • Evidence of your citizen spouse’s employment abroad (if applying under 319(b))
  • Two passport-style photographs (if you reside outside the United States)

Additionally, you might want to get: any certified arrest records, any certified conviction records, and you should take your passport to your interview.

How long will I have to wait for my naturalization interview?

It depends on where you are located and where you are applying for citizenship. Most of Illinois will receive interviews to the Chicago USCIS office. Currently, the USCIS processing time for N400 in Chicago is 13.5 to 21 months. You can find more processing times per location here.

Can I take the citizenship exam in my own language?

Generally, no. The interview will be in English and you will have to demonstrate a basic knowledge of US history and civics, and that you know simple written and verbal English. There are some exceptions to this. If you have been a permanent resident for 20 years or more, and you are 50 and older, you may qualify to take the exam in your language. Additionally, you may also qualify for this exception if you have been a resident of the USA for at least 15 years and you are 55 and older. Otherwise, you will need to take the citizenship interview in English. However, you will still need to get at least 6 questions rights out of 10. There is a pool of a possible 100 questions. Here is a list of the 100 questions with their answers.

Can I take the simplified citizenship exam?  

There are mainly two ways: receive a waiver through filing a successful N648 medical disability exception, or if you are 65 years and older and you have been a resident of the US for more than 20 years.  

Form N648 is essentially your medical doctor letting USCIS know that you need an accommodation because of a medical condition that you are suffering from. Form N648 may be challenged by USCIS during the interview, and you it can be denied. If that happens, the applicant will get a second bite at the apple within approximately 90 days. During this second chance, the applicant may be able to resubmit form N648 or attempt to fully take the exam.

For the 65/20 exception, as long as you are over 65 and have been an LPR for at least 20 years, a simplified version of the exam will be available for you. This means that the applicant will need to learn only around 20 questions instead of the usual 100. Here are the questions for this exception.

What can I do to know more?

If you have questions about filing form N400, please do not hesitate to reach call O’Flaherty Law at 630-324-6666 to speak with one of our experienced immigration attorneys.

Posted 
April 28, 2021
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