Coming to the United States is a major life decision for people who live in other countries. For many of these individuals, becoming a naturalized citizen is a dream. There are many things that must come together to make a successful petition to come into the country, as well as to become a citizen.
Remember that you can't have any mistakes when you are making your petitions. Everything has to be in order because any error can mean that your application is declined. Here are some important things to remember about becoming a naturalized citizen:
- Residency and physical presence: You must be in the United States legally as a permanent resident with an I-551. You have to be an adult who is at least 18 years old and who has lived in the country for at least 30 months during the five years preceding your application. If you are out of the country for six months to one year, you must show that you didn't abandon your resident status.
- Language: You must be able to speak, write and read English before you can become naturalized. If you have a mental condition or are elderly, you might not have to meet this requirement.
- Allegiance and the Constitution: You must be willing to support and defend the Constitution. As part of the naturalization process, you will say an oath of allegiance that testifies to this. When religious beliefs forbid you from taking an oath, this step may be modified to respect those beliefs.
- Testing requirement: You have to take a test that shows you know the basic fundamentals related to the United States government and a basic knowledge of the country's history. Some individuals, including those who have a recognized mental or physical impairment that limits their abilities to learn and relay their understanding, might be excused from this aspect of becoming a naturalized citizen.
- Paperwork: You must ensure that all your paperwork is turned in correctly. This includes answering all questions and meeting any applicable deadlines.
Once you become a citizen, you have many of the same rights as people who were born here. Some of these include being able to hold a public office, having access to specific benefits and jobs, and having the right to vote. These rights, and others you will have, may help you to keep going when you feel like the process is getting too stressful.