How to Become a US Citizen: Expert Guidance | Passage Law


Becoming a U.S. citizen is a dream for many people across the world. The United States has been titled the land of opportunity for the privileges and benefits that come along with taking part in this Nation. Many of the privileges derived from obtaining citizenship include the right to vote, travel, better job opportunities and overall a more sustainable lifestyle. As a naturalized U.S. citizen, you gain the ability to participate fully in the political process, access certain public benefits not available to non-citizens, and enjoy the security of permanent resident status without the risk of deportation under most circumstances. Naturalization not only endows you with certain rights but also expects adherence to responsibilities such as serving on a jury and voting.

There are a variety of pathways towards citizenship offered by the current immigration laws of the United States. However, to become a citizen, an applicant must obtain permanent legal status and maintain their green card for the required duration of either three years if married to a U.S. citizen or five years if not. The journey to U.S. citizenship can often involve complex legal and procedural steps, from obtaining a green card to filing the N-400 form for naturalization. Immigration lawyers play a crucial role in guiding applicants through these steps, ensuring compliance with all legal requirements and enhancing the chances of success.

Majority of the Naturalized U.S. citizens obtain their permanent legal status through a family petition from their spouse or an immediate family member. Others, through a business- or work-related petition from an employer and a smaller number of individuals are self-petitioners after taking part in a humanitarian program such as VAWA. Each of these paths offers a unique set of challenges and opportunities, such as proving good moral character and demonstrating the benefits of being a U.S. citizen during the naturalization process. Legal guidance is often essential in navigating these paths to ensure that all prerequisites are met, from green card conditions to meeting the residency requirements necessary for eligibility.

Naturalization Process

Naturalization is the process by which someone becomes a United States citizen. It allows a lawful permanent resident to become a full-fledged citizen with the full rights and benefits that entails. In most cases, the process can take several months, even when you have everything in the proper order on your end. It’s helpful to work with an immigration lawyer who can ensure that you are following the procedure properly. There are several components to the naturalization process, including:

Eligibility – The first step to naturalization is making sure that you are eligible. You must be at least 18 years of age. You also must be a lawful permanent resident of the United States. Since most people who are interested in naturalization come from the family immigration process, this isn’t usually an issue. However, if you are in the United States on some kind of non-immigrant visa, you will have to petition for an adjustment of status first to receive your green card. You will also need to have lived in the United States for five years without interruption, or three years if you’re married to a U.S. citizen. You also need to have been present in the country for at least half of that time. Finally, you must be willing to take an oath of allegiance to the United States, pass a civics and English test, and demonstrate good moral character. Achieving naturalization means meeting strict guidelines and demonstrating your commitment to the U.S. by showing good moral character and understanding of U.S. civics—qualities that define the responsibilities of a U.S. citizen.

Form N-400 – Filling out an N-400 form is the first legal step to naturalization. Along with the form, you must present the required documentation to support your eligibility. It’s critical that the form and supporting documents are properly filled out or else it can lead to delays. The surest way to have your paperwork done properly is by working with an immigration lawyer like those at Passage Immigration Law. The N-400 form is your formal request to be considered for naturalization, and ensuring it is completed accurately is crucial. Missteps here can delay or derail your journey to becoming a naturalized U.S. citizen.

Interview and Tests – You will need to interview with an officer of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. The interview will cover your application and ask questions for more detail on your background and situation. While you are there, you will also need to take a test on your English language ability and understanding of U.S. civics. If your application is approved and you pass the tests, you will be given an invitation to a naturalization ceremony. This step assesses not just your knowledge but also your good moral character and your readiness to take on the rights and responsibilities of a U.S. citizen.

Biometrics – Before you can become naturalized, you will need a biometric appointment at a local Application Support Center. This will typically involve fingerprinting and photographing. This step ensures that all naturalized citizens maintain a record with USCIS, which is crucial for security and identification purposes.

Naturalization Ceremony – The capstone of the naturalization process is the naturalization ceremony. During this ceremony, you will take an oath of allegiance to the United States and its Constitution. After that, you will receive a certificate of naturalization. You must take care of this certificate and keep it safe, as it is a legal document. The ceremony marks the final transition from a permanent resident to a U.S. citizen, celebrating your full inclusion into the civic community with all the rights and responsibilities therein, including voting and the ability to hold a U.S. passport.

After Naturalization

Once the naturalization process is completed, there are a few other things that you may want to take note of and be aware of, including:

Rights and Responsibilities – Once you are an official U.S. citizen, you have the responsibility to do things like serve on a jury when asked or pay taxes. You will also have the rights of an official citizen, such as applying for a United States passport and the opportunity to vote in U.S. elections. These rights and responsibilities underscore the civic value of naturalization, making you not only a resident but a participant in the nation’s political and judicial processes.

Updating Records – Once you are officially a U.S. citizen, you will want to make sure that you update your records with the Social Security Administration and other government agencies. This ensures that all benefits and responsibilities are properly aligned with your new status as a U.S. citizen.

How a Lawyer Can Help

Working with an immigration lawyer can help take a lot of the stress out of pursuing U.S. citizenship. At Passage Immigration Law, we have a thorough understanding of the process as well as the kinds of difficulties and challenges that can sometimes come up. We can help ensure that the procedures and steps are being followed properly and that you are making progress toward your goal. Some of the things that we can help with include:

Confirming Your Eligibility – One of the things that we often help our clients with is confirming that they are eligible for the naturalization process. Although the qualifications can seem straightforward, there are often some issues or difficulties in proving some aspects of the qualifications. We can help get these things sorted out before you begin the process of naturalization. If you don’t yet meet the requirements, we may be able to give some advice on how to meet them or even help with something like an adjustment of status if needed. This includes assessing your good moral character and ensuring you meet the residency requirements that are foundational for naturalization.

Paperwork – There’s nothing in the immigration process that doesn’t seem to require a lot of paperwork. The forms can also sometimes be confusing for those who are unfamiliar with them. Additionally, making sure that you have proper documentation can also be tricky. Every case is a little bit different, which means that the supporting documentation can be a little different. Helping ensure that you have a proper application, with the correct forms and appropriate supporting documents, is a significant portion of what we do. With our help, you can feel comfortable knowing that you are submitting the right documents to the USCIS.

Potential Issues – An experienced immigration lawyer can also help with addressing some potential problems in your application process before they become significant issues. Getting ahead of these problems is often the likeliest path to solving them, and we can help you do just that. Our experience allows us to see issues that others might not notice, which can help you avoid delays.

We Can Help You on Your Journey to Citizenship

One of the most rewarding aspects of working in immigration law is helping people reach their goal of becoming United States citizens. The process along the way, though, can sometimes be challenging, as unexpected problems can happen in even the simplest case. We are ready, though, to help our clients address whatever issues might emerge. We can rely on both a comprehensive understanding of the law as well as the kind of knowledge that only comes with having practised the law and seeing it applied in real-life situations. If your aim is U.S. citizenship, we can help you achieve it. Contact us today to discuss your situation.


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