The process of applying for your U.S. citizenship through the requirements outlined by Congress in the Immigration and Nationality Act is called Naturalization. To qualify for naturalization, you must fulfill these requirements:
- You have been a lawful permanent resident for at least five consecutive years; or
- You have been a lawful permanent resident and married to your U.S. citizen spouse simultaneously for at least three consecutive years; and
- You have been in the court jurisdiction’s local area for at least three months;
- You have a strong moral character, presumed by a lack of recorded poor behavior (past criminal convictions for serious crimes put this requirement in danger.)
One of the major steps of U.S. Naturalization is reciting the oath, which effectively renounces citizenship from your original country of nationality. However, this step really only matters if your country recognizes oath renunciation; for instance, Singapore, Germany and Japan citizenships are rendered nil once you convert to U.S. citizenship, whereas you are able to hold dual citizenship with countries such as Canada, France and the U.K.
Your Naturalization Checklist:
- Two clear, color photographs, identical in nature and labeled on the back with your Alien Registration Number (A-Number)
- Form N-400 (Application for Naturalization) from the USCIS website
- A filing fee of $260 made payable with a personal check to “US USCIS”
- A copy of any and all police records with court documentation if applicable, if you have ever been arrested anywhere in the world
There are other requirements when applying for Naturalization depending on situations such as having an immigration attorney represent you, marrying or married to a U.S. citizen, change of name, military service, a previous temporary trip abroad lasting more than six months before becoming a lawful permanent resident, and other relevant circumstances. It is important to be precise and time-conscious when filing for Naturalization, and an experienced immigration lawyer can make the process much easier and quicker for you.