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#366 Becoming Naturalized Citizen

mp3 #366 How to become a Naturalized Citizen (mp3 file)

There are a number of document preparation agencies, notaries and immigration providers that offer their services to the public. While many of these organizations may help you file immigration applications, ONLY an attorney may represent you in court. Many times when applications are filed incorrectly the risk of denial increases tremendously. Hiring an experienced immigration attorney will save you time, money and reduce the risk of denial and deportation. Continue below to be referred to an experienced and insured immigration attorney

This message will first discuss the requirements for Naturalization as a United States citizen and will then outline the steps for you to take to become a citizen.

First, what are the requirements, if you wish to become a United States citizen?

The first requirement is your age: you must be at least 18 years of age before you can apply for naturalization.

The second requirement is your lawful admission to the United States: you must be lawfully admitted into the United States for permanent residence, before you can be naturalized. You may not be naturalized if you are in this country illegally, or if you are here on a temporary visa or if you have refugee status or any other protected status.

The third requirement is your residence and physical presence: after you have been admitted to the United States for permanent residence, you must reside in this country continuously, for at least five years, just before you file your petition for Naturalization in court. And at least the last three months of those five years of residence, must also be in California, or in the state where you file your petition. The five year period may include short visits outside of the United States, but not for trips of six months or longer and for no more than a total of 30 months during the five-year period. If you gained lawful permanent residence due to your marriage to a U.S. citizen and you are still married to and living with the U.S. citizen, you can apply for naturalization three years after you gained lawful permanent residence, so long as you have not left the United States for trips of 6 months or longer.

The fourth requirement is your character and loyalty: you must show that during all of the five-year period, you have been a person of good moral character, and that you believe in the principles of the constitution of the United States. Uncontrolled alcoholics, professional gamblers, and persons convicted of certain crimes of moral turpitude, or smuggling, are examples of persons who may not be naturalized as U.S. citizens.

The fifth requirement is attachment to the constitution. An applicant must show that he or she is attached to the principles of the Constitution of the United States and is willing to support and defend it. You declare your "attachment" to the United States and the Constitution when you take the Oath of Allegiance.

The sixth requirement has to do with the English language: You must be able to speak and understand simple English, and be able to read and write simple English. The only exceptions to this English language requirement are for persons who are over 50 years old, and who have been living in the United States for periods totaling 20 years or persons over 55 years old who have been living in the United States for periods totaling 15 years as a lawful permanent resident (these individuals may pass the test in their native language); or persons who are physically unable to read or write.

The seventh requirement is education for citizenship: every applicant, including older persons just mentioned, must pass an examination, showing that you know something about the history and form of government of the United States. Applicants exempt are those who have a medically determinable physical or mental impairment that affects the applicant’s ability to learn U.S. History and Government. The questions and answers are not difficult, if you prepare for them by attending citizenship classes, or by taking correspondence courses, or by studying citizenship textbooks sold by the U.S. government printing office, online at or at 732 N. Capitol Street, NW · Washington, DC 20401. In many communities, the public schools and other community groups offer citizenship classes.

The eighth requirement is your oath of allegiance: you must give up any foreign allegiance and any foreign title you have, and you must promise to obey the constitution and laws of the United States of America. Unless it is against your religion, you must also promise to bear arms or fight for the United States, to perform other types of service in the armed forces of the United States, and to do work of importance to the nation when you are asked to do so.


There are certain classes of people who may become citizens under special rules. These include children, the wife or husband of a United States citizen, the surviving spouse of a member of the armed forces of the United States, former United States citizens, aliens who served in the armed forces of the United States, and aliens who have been employees of organizations promoting United States interests abroad. Detailed requirements apply to each of these special classes of people.

If you are not sure that you meet all of the requirements, you may wish to consult an immigration attorney. If you do meet all these requirements for naturalization, how do you become an American citizen?

Your first step is to get an application form, pay the proper fee, a fingerprint card, photos, and a biographic information form, online at, or from the county clerk's office in your county. The forms are also available at Federal Court Clerk’s offices in California.

You fill out the documents according to the instructions printed on them, and you then take them, mail them, or send them electronically to the appropriate USCIS service center specified in the Form Entry Page (or FEP). Many immigration forms also require photographs to be submitted with the forms. The specifications for these photographs are described in the application. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (known as the USCIS) will notify you by mail, when and where to appear before the USCIS examiner, to discuss your application.

If you feel that the USCIS examiner is asking you questions that sound as if your application for citizenship may be denied, you may want to have an immigration attorney to represent you, and the rest of the preliminary examination hearing will be postponed until you have an attorney with you. For example, if you have had any criminal convictions, and the USCIS examiner questions you about these convictions, you may need an immigration attorney to help you at the hearing.

After your interview, the USCIS examiner will give you a form that gives you information about the results of your interview. Based on all the information you give they will either grant, continue, or deny your naturalization application after your interview. Sometimes USCIS can tell you if you will be granted citizenship at the end of your interview. In some cases you may be able to take an oath ceremony the same day as your interview. Otherwise, you will receive a notice telling you when and where your oath ceremony will be.

If USCIS approves your application for naturalization, you must attend a ceremony and take the Oath of Allegiance to the United States. USCIC will notify you of the ceremony date by mail with a "Notice of Naturalization Oath Ceremony" form. You are not a citizen until you take the Oath of Allegiance. You will take the Oath during the ceremony and receive your Certificate of Naturalization. At this time you will officially become a U.S. Citizen.

If the USCIS examiner finds that you are not qualified to become a citizen, you will be notified in writing by mail, with the examiner's reasons for denial. If you feel that you were wrongly denied your citizenship you may request a hearing with an USCIS officer. Your denial letter will explain how to request a hearing and will include the form you need. If after an appeal hearing you still believe you were wrongly denied naturalization, you may file a petition for a new review of your application in U.S. District Court.

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