How Hard Is It To Get US Citizenship? -

How Hard Is It To Get US Citizenship?

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Getting US citizenship is not quick and it is not easy. Not everybody is eligible to apply for it and it can be a very long process to get US citizenship, regardless of how you qualify.

Before you can apply for US citizenship, you must first have a green card and be a legal permanent citizen of the US.

There are strict criteria as to who is able to apply for a green card and the main ways to get a green card are through having a relative that is a US citizen, being employed for a highly skilled job by a US employer, getting married to a US citizen or making a large investment in a commercial business in the US.

Getting a green card is the main barrier to obtaining US citizenship and there are a lot of criteria that must be met for a green card to be approved.

How Hard is it to Become a US citizen? The U.S. Citizenship Requirements

If you have a green card then becoming a US citizen is a good likelihood. Around 700,000 people each year are approved to become US citizens.

The key eligibility is:

  • You are aged 18 or over
  • You are a green card holder
  • You have lived in the US for five years (or three if you’re married to a US citizen)
  • Pledge allegiance to the US Constitution
  • Demonstrate sufficient knowledge of US culture, history, and the English language
  • Have a valid address in the same state or region where you plan to apply
  • Registering your interest in providing civil services when necessary (only for male applicants)
  • Demonstrate good moral character

The Four Types Of Citizenship

The four types of citizenship that exist are:

  • 1. Family citizenship (jus sanguinis) - A person can apply for this type of citizenship if he has one US citizen parent, ie if his parent is an American citizen;
  • 2. Citizenship by birth (jus soli) - Every person born in the USA gets citizenship by default;
  • 3. Marital citizenship (jus matrimonii) - A person can become a united states citizen more quickly on a special basis if their spouse supports their green card;
  • 4. Naturalization - People apply for US citizenship if they have gone through the naturalization process (discussed below).

How to Apply for US Citizenship?

The next step is to fill in Form N-400 Application for Naturalization. There is a fee of $725 to apply for US citizenship, although raising this fee up to $1,170 has been proposed, so it could cost a lot more in the future.

The Documents Required for U.S. Citizenship

Providing supporting documentation is part of the naturalization and citizenship processes in the United States. Immigration status will determine the paperwork that the applicant needs to submit.

After submitting form Form N-400, there is a list of documents required for US citizenship:

  • 1. A copy of the Green Card (Permanent Residence Card can also be used);
  • 2. Evidence of current married status (this document is necessary for any type of citizenship);
  • 3. Receipt for paying the application fee;
  • 4. Two passport-sized photographs;
  • 5. Application for a fee reduction or fee waiver (In case there is a need for it);
  • 6. Evidence of a medical disability (If a request for an exemption from the citizenship test is made because of a medical condition);
  • 7. A written request for attendance by a representative at your citizenship interview (If desired, a lawyer can be an escort);

If any of the supporting documentation is written in another language, you must have an official translation into English.

Also, every document must be in a format prescribed by the US government.

The Naturalization Process

The naturalization process is how a lawful permanent resident obtains U.S. citizenship.

In order to become a U.S. citizen, a person must apply for the naturalization process. However, first of all, each applicant must be sure that they meet the requirements for this procedure. There are certain requirements for eligibility about which there was a word above.

Submitting an application for naturalization(Form N-400) and paying the filing fee are the initial steps for this process.

There are two options for filing the application: online or on paper. To fill in online, the applicant needs to create an account with U.S. Citizenship and Naturalization Services.

Except, it is impossible to fill out online if applying for military service, from abroad, or tax exemption. In that case, the applicant sends a paper application to the relevant USCIS office.

In accordance with the 90-day early-filing rule, if the applicant meets all other eligibility conditions, they may submit their N-400 to USCIS up to 90 days before the end of the three- or five-year waiting period as a green card owner.

In addition, to form N-400, for the naturalization interview, the candidate must also bring the following documentation: Proof of green card holder status (permanent residents); State ID or Driver’s license; Travel records (Passports, USCIS-issued travel documents); Evidence of the present marital status and the termination of any previous marriages; If there is any, evidence of the termination of the spouse's prior marriages; Proof of official name change(s), if there is any.

Once you have submitted the form, along with the requested documents and passport photos, you should receive an invitation to a biometrics appointment where your fingerprints and photographs will be taken.

Current Naturalization Wait Time

The processing period for naturalization, from the moment a person applies for citizenship to the time they attend the Pledge of Allegiance ceremony, is currently from 18.5 to 24 months (more detailed information below in the article).

Naturalization Requirements

As a condition of applying for naturalization, the applicant must:

  • be at least 18 years old;
  • have a permanent resident for the last three or five years, depending on the category under which they are applying for citizenship;
  • possess a permanent address and physical presence within the United States;
  • have basic English literacy requirements include the ability to read, write, and speak the language;
  • demonstrate good moral character;
  • show knowledge of American history and government;
  • take the Oath of Allegiance.

Complete the Biometrics Screening

When the applicant for citizenship submits all the necessary documentation along with passport photos, he will receive an invitation for biometric screening from the USCIS in the form of an appointment letter. They will take fingerprints and photos for the purpose of multiple checks.

The FBI will perform background checks on applicants, in conjunction with the Department of Homeland Security's checks.

Interview for US Citizenship

An interview is the next step in the naturalization process. The USCIS officer questions the applicant during the interview about his application, history, character, and constitutional knowledge.

Take the Civics and English Tests

A USCIS officer will examine an applicant's fundamental English language skills (reading, writing, and speaking), as well as his or her knowledge of and comprehension of rights, and duties, geography, and principles of American democracy, during the interview (A USCIS officer usually asks applicants up to 10 questions, and to pass the civics exam, candidates must properly answer six out of ten questions).

If an applicant fails the test, they will have one more chance to pass it before they lose their right to US citizenship.

Taking the US Citizenship Oath and Receive your Certificate of Naturalization

If the applicant passes the interview and exam process, then they will be approved for becoming a US citizen. The last stage is then to take the oath of allegiance to the United States, which happens in a public ceremony, and then they receive their Certificate of Naturalization.

If the person does not appear for the naturalization ceremony, his application will be considered invalid. In such a case, that person can send a letter asking for a new date and explaining their reasons for being unable to attend the ceremony.

It should be noted that the applicant officially becomes a US citizen only after taking the Oath of Allegiance. Only after completing this step, a person can apply for a US passport.

Proving the “Continuous Residence” in the U.S.

One of the requirements for US citizenship is for the applicant to prove their "permanent presence", which means at least five years of residence as a green card holder.

A person cannot stay abroad for more than six months during an eligible time, according to US immigration rules. In other words, if he stays outside the nation for a lengthy period of time, USCIS will presume that he has renounced his status.

The person won't be allowed to provide any more evidence in favor of his petition if he has been abroad for a year or more. When he returns to the United States, he will have to wait before reapplication for citizenship. If he has been over than two years outside the US due to circumstances beyond his control, he may also be qualified for a return resident visa.

How Long Does US Citizenship Process Take?

From application to the swearing-in ceremony, this is how long the naturalization process takes:

  • Processing the naturalization application: 14.5 months (average)
  • Attendance of the applicant for the biometric appointment: an extra 0 months
  • Attendance at the citizenship examination and interview by the applicant: 4 months (on average)
  • Getting the applicant's request's decision: 0–4 more months
  • Receiving the naturalization certificate and taking the oath of allegiance: 0–1.5 months

Total time required to complete the naturalization process: 18.5 months to 24 months.

Sponsoring Relatives Who Seek Immigration Status

An American citizen may assist a close relative in obtaining permanent legal residency status in the country. In order to accomplish this, a person must sponsor their relative and prove that they will be able to help them financially after they arrive in the United States.

The following relatives may be petitioned by a citizen of the United States:

  • Wife or husband
  • Married or unmarried children.

A citizen of the United States who is at least 21 years old may also file a petition for the relatives listed below:

  • Brothers and sisters;
  • Parents

Written by Abisola Fikayomi

Abisola is an accomplished writer interested in US Travel, immigration, passports and visas. She’s passionate about exploring new places and cultures and willing to share her experiences, expertize and findings with others. That is her primary drive for specialising in this industry.


Usually, it takes from 18.5 to 24 months to get American citizenship.
There are a total of 10 questions on the test. the candidate must answer at least 6 correctly to pass the test. Statistics show that a higher percentage of candidates pass the test without problems.
The applicant:
  • must be at least 18 years of age;
  • is a green card holder;
  • must demonstrate knowledge of American government and history;
  • have been a resident of the US for five years (or three if they're married to a citizen);
  • must demonstrate moral integrity.
If the candidate has been a resident of America for 5 years (or 3 years if he is married to a US citizen) he can apply for citizenship. The process of obtaining citizenship takes an average of one and a half to two years.
The procedure for naturalization includes several steps:
  • Determining your ability to apply for citizenship in the US.
  • Submitting Form N-400, the naturalization application.
  • To complete your form online, you must create a free account.
  • Having a personal interview and taking the U.S. Naturalization Test.
  • Before receiving their certificates of citizenship, successful candidates must take an Oath of Loyalty to the United States during a public ceremony.
The 4 year, 1 day rule largely operates like this: when your term of continuous residency is disrupted, a new one will start on the day you return to the United States. Before you may submit a new application for naturalization, you must have lived in the country for at least 4 years, 1 day, starting from that day.
The fastest way to become a citizen of the United States is to be born here.
It costs 725 dollars.
Yes, it allows dual citizenship
A person who was born in America can obtain American citizenship, while naturalization is obtained by persons who become citizens through the naturalization process.


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