Becoming a legal citizen in the United States is not a simple process but if the legal status of the person concerned is up to the standards than it is quite easy. On the other hand, if the legal status is not in compliance with the requirements mentioned by the State Department then it may take longer.
There are many resources available at present to help immigrants gain citizenship easily and in a short period of time. The first step is to know about the requirements needed and the information regarding immigration laws which are readily available in the websites hosted by the government, immigration and naturalization offices.
The N-400 form should be downloaded from the government website and filled out appropriately. To apply one should be residing permanently in the United States and should be above 18 years of age. The residence period should be approximately four years and nine months prior to the application date. This is shorter if the person has obtained green card by marrying an US citizen. The time period here is two years and nine months. There are many exceptions to the stipulated five year period.
The continuous residence is also another specification where a time gap of six months but less than one year period of absence from the country is allowed. Of the total of sixty months of residence required, the applicant should have spent thirty months in continuous residence prior to applying. This time period is less for green card holders who need to reside for only eighteen months before applying for US citizenship. The applicant should also have resided in the state from where he is applying for a minimum time period of about three months.
The advantage of getting US citizenship is that the applicant can retain dual citizenship status, but there are exceptions, it is not allowed if you are from the following countries, Japan, Australia and Germany. You need to clarify this with your country’s embassy before applying.
Once you qualify, you have to prepare for the citizenship interview and test conducted to know your proficiency in the English language and also about American history and civics. There are ESL (English as Second Language) courses which help to improve English language skills and pass the tests. You can get the contact address from your local library or community college. These classes build your confidence and help you to face the interviews in a better mindset.
For individuals who have been residing in the US, for the past fifteen years or are above fifty five years of age writing the test and interview with the help of a translator is allowed. A medical waiver filled in form N-648 is required in such a case.
The application form includes the N-400 application to be filled out, a filing fee ($260), fingerprint fee ($50), copy of green card, photos (green card style) and papers certifying disposition before the court for criminal offense if any. For the interview the applicant should have documents like the green card, driver’s license, passport, recent travel permit papers, original court dispositions, original police records, spouse citizenship proof, proof of child support, tax forms, name change proof and proof of residence if green card was obtained through spouse and citizenship applied after three years.