The U.S. Citizenship application process consists of several steps. To avoid further delays or mistakes, it is advisable to follow the guidance of an immigration expert through every stage of it.
- Step 1: Application for Naturalization (Form N-400)
Your U.S. citizenship application process starts when you submit your form and supporting documents to the USCIS. Once you have filed your petition, you must make sure to notify USCIS any time you change your address in the U.S., to avoid missing official notices.
- Step 2: Your biometrics appointment
Your fingerprints, photos, and signatures need to be collected as part of your application. You will receive an appointment letter from the USCIS, usually one month after the submission of your application.
Do not forget to bring with you your Green Card, at least two forms of ID with your photo and your appointment letter. During this stage, the USCIS may also ask for additional information or supporting materials.
Your fingerprints will be forwarded to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to conduct a background check. If your details are rejected, you must produce a police clearance certificate.
- Step 3: Attending your citizenship interview and exam
One year after your U.S. citizenship application, you will be summoned for an interview. You will receive a letter from the USCIS with the date and location of your hearing. If this date does not suit you, you can reschedule your appointment. However, this could be several months in the future.
Typically, your citizenship exam is scheduled on the same day of your interview. If you do not pass your language or civics test, you can retake only the portion of the exam that you fail. On the other hand, resitting this test can delay your application process of up to two more months.
After your exam and interview, the USCIS has four months to communicate its decision. Within this time, you will receive a Form N-652, also known as “Notice of Examination Results”.
Your application can be approved or denied. In this second case, you will receive another letter explaining what to do next. If you wish to challenge the authority’s decision, you can file an appeal.
If your application is marked as continued, it means you did not pass your test or that the USCIS needs further documentation to evaluate your case.
- Step 5: Taking the Oath of Allegiance and receiving your Certificate of Naturalization
Your Oath of Allegiance ceremony will take place about two to six weeks later the approval of your U.S. citizenship application. The date and the location are reported on the Form N-445 (“Notice of Naturalization Oath Ceremony”) that you will receive from the USCIS.
If you fail to appear for your naturalization ceremony, your application will be considered invalid. However, you can write a letter requesting a new date explaining your circumstances.
Remember that you will officially be a U.S. citizen only after you have taken your Oath of Allegiance. Only after this step, you can apply for a U.S. passport.