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Naturalization: Becoming a US citizen

To become a Citizen of the United States, The eligibility requirements are:

You must be a lawful permanent resident.

You must be 18 years or older

You must have continuous residence in the USA and be of good moral character

For my clients who got their green cards through marriage. The continuous residence period is only 3 years. And we can start the naturalization process even before that, three months earlier. So that it may be possible to be sworn in as a US citizen on the exact three year anniversary of the start of your permanent residence.

Other green card holders, those not married to US citizens must wait till they have accrued 5 full years of permanent residence.

The next eligibility requirement is that you confirm you have "Attachment" to the US Constitution

The Constitution is the document that sets up how U.S. Government and laws of the US work.

Attachment means you agree with the Constitutionís principles, and you will support and defend them.

Finally, you must demonstrate knowledge of English and US Civics.

If you are married to a US citizen, once you have reached 2 years and 9 months of permanent residency, or if not married to a US citizen, you have reached 5 years of permanent residency we submit the application for Naturalization to USCIS.

The application includes evidences of your eligibility.

And just like when we worked earlier to obtain your fiance or spouse visa and adjustment of status. I will provide you with a detailed and personalized list of the photos, documents and evidences needed for your shoebox.

You'll not hear from USCIS for a while, but eventually they will schedule you for a formal Interview and tell you where and when to go.

You'll want to bring to the interview, the appointment notice, your green card, your passports, and US id's, as well as the evidence portion from the application we submitted, which will have all the supporting and evidence documents that might be needed.

At the start of the interview, the USCIS officer goes over your application in front of you, and asks questions about what you have submitted.

He'll ask your name, address, where you come from, marital history, travel history, etc. He is just confirming that you know what's been stated on the application and that and still stick with what you said. And during this Q + A your ability to speak English is measured.

When satisfied, he'll ask for you to sign the application again.

Then on to the Civics and English reading and writing tests. You have already passed the English speaking portion.

You are shown three sentences, and asked to read one out loud.

Then you are shown three sentences and asked to write a copy of one.

The vocabulary words used are all very basic and available for study at the USCIS website or from your VisaCoach account page.

The civics test consists of 100 possible questions. The officer may ask up to 10 (chosen randomly) and to pass, you must get at least 6 right.

Study materials are also available at USCIS or your VisaCoach account page. The only marginally tricky issue, is that everytime there is an election, a half dozen of the answers change: for example who is the President,who is your local Senator, who is your state's Governor, and so on.

At the end of the interview the officer lets you know you passed, and that the next step will be your swearing in ceremony.

Depending on where you live the oath taking ceremony will be scheduled after a few months. If you are married to a US citizen and applied right at the 2 year, 9 month mark, you will have to wait at least until your 3 year Green card anniversary has passed.

The Naturalization swearing-in ceremony is a big affair. Typically a few hundred immigrants will be sworn in at the same time, and various elected officials, judges, prominent individuals attend to give speechs and welcome the brand new US Citizens.

After your oath ceremony you are officially a US citizen and have all the rights and responsibilities that come with.

Previously, as a Lawful Permanent Resident you could apply to sponsor your spouse or child for immigration to the USA, but no one else.

Now as a US citizen, you can Also sponsor a fiance, your parents, and your siblings for immigration.

And of course, VisaCoach is available to help you make it happen

By Fred Wahl
the VisaCoach

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