Citizenship and Naturalization Information
Citizenship and Naturalization Overview
There are three main paths to becoming a United States citizen:
Citizenship by Birth: With only very few exceptions, you are a United States citizen if you were born in the United States. This general rule is true even if your parents were undocumented immigrants. The exceptions to this general rule are if your parents were in the United States in a special category, such as diplomats.
Citizenship through Parents: Some people are United States citizens based on their parents being United States citizens. If one or both of your parents were United States citizens when you were born, you may be a citizen even if you were not born in the United States. In addition, some children automatically become citizens when their parents naturalize to become United States citizens.
Citizenship through Naturalization: You can become a United States citizen through the naturalization process. Citizenship Through Naturalization The naturalization process allows someone who is not a United States citizen to become a citizen. Generally speaking you first need to be a permanent resident for a certain number of years before you can apply for citizenship. This is true even for spouses of United States citizens. There are other requirements that need to be met in order to qualify for citizenship.
It is very important that you don’t apply for citizenship through naturalization if you don’t meet all of the requirements. For example, if you apply for citizenship but have criminal convictions that make you deportable, you could find yourself in deportation proceedings instead of becoming a citizen. In addition, your complete immigration file will be reviewed as part of the naturalization process. If you are concerned that there may be any mistakes in your immigration file or issues related to previous immigration applications, you should speak to an immigration lawyer before you apply.
The steps in the naturalization process are:
Step 1: Make sure that you qualify for naturalization before you begin the process. Do not apply for naturalization if you don't qualify for it.
Step 2: Collect the information and supporting documents needed to complete your application package.
Step 3: Prepare and submit your application package to USCIS.
Step 4: The official receipt notice from USCIS will arrive in the mail.
Step 5: Your biometrics appointment notice will arrive in the mail.
Step 6: Complete your biometrics appointment.
Step 7: Your appointment notice will arrive in the mail.
Step 8: Attend your naturalization interview. During this interview you will go over your application and will take the civics and English tests.
Step 9: If all goes well at your interview, you should receive an appointment notice for your oath ceremony.
Step 10: Attend your oath ceremony. You will become a citizen during the ceremony.
The time it takes to become a naturalized citizen will depend on two key factors: details of your case and the USCIS office that handles your case.
If your case involves special issues or if your case is delayed due to background checks, your case may take longer than a less complex case.
Your immigration lawyer will be able to give you an idea of how long your case will take based on the current processing times for the Las Vegas USCIS office. In general, a naturalization application could be approved in as little as four months or it could take over a year.
There are other issues that can impact how long it takes for you to become a citizen. For example, the wait for your interview and oath ceremony could be considerably longer if you receive a request for evidence or do not pass your civics and English tests during your initial naturalization interview. Working with an immigration lawyer can help you to minimize these types of delays in your case.
The costs involved in becoming a citizen through the naturalization process can be viewed in three groups: the required government filing fees, other required costs and attorney fees.
The required government filing fees are:
- $725 for the Form N-400 filing fee
Depending on your income, you may be able to receive a waiver of all or part of the government filing fee.
The government filing fee (or fee waiver application) must be submitted with the N-400 application. The fee can be paid by credit card, check or money order.
The other required costs that you should expect as part of the naturalization process are:
- Translation costs – varies by the translator and type of documents being translated into English
- Original documents/certified copies – varies by what documents need to be obtained
Depending on whether you work with an immigration lawyer, you may also have attorney fees as part of the total costs of the process.
Not everyone who applies for naturalization will need a lawyer to assist them with the process. You can learn more about whether you need a lawyer by reading the information on this website and by learning more about the role of an immigration lawyer in the naturalization process. If you decide to hire an immigration lawyer to assist you, the legal fees will vary by law firm and the complexity of the case.
How We Can Help With Your Citizenship or Naturalization Application
Immigration Lawyer Naturalization Services
You are not required to work with an immigration lawyer, but working with one can be very helpful and can help minimize the stress involved in the green card application process.
Our typical immigration lawyer naturalization service includes the following:
- Explain the naturalization process in detail to you to help you decide if you should apply for naturalization
- Review your immigration history to make sure that you qualify for naturalization
- Research and resolve any special issues with your case to minimize the risk that your application will be denied
- Prepare your N-400 application form
- Prepare any legal letters or memos needed for your case
- Identify the supporting documents needed for your application
- Assist with preparing any affidavits or declarations needed for your case
- Assist you in preparing for your naturalization interview
- Prepare and submit responses to any standard Requests for Evidence received from USCIS
- Attend your naturalization interview with you
N-400 Application Review Services
Our application review service is for people who prefer to prepare their N-400 naturalization application on their own, but want the peace of mind of having an immigration lawyer review the application before it is submitted to USCIS.
Our N-400 application review service includes the following:
- We will review your N-400 form for accuracy and completeness
- We will review your supporting documents to evaluate whether all required documents are included and to provide you with our professional opinion of your documents
- We will prepare a written report for you that describes any issues that we found in reviewing your application
- An application review appointment to go over your application with us and to give you the opportunity to ask our lawyers any questions you have about your application and the next steps in the process
Immigration Lawyer Citizenship Services
Are you a citizen but are having trouble obtaining a US passport or Certificate of Citizenship? We can help by researching any legal issues related to your case, preparing your application, and representing you in your application to USCIS or the Department of States.