10 Steps to Naturalization
Step 1: Determine if you are already a U.S. citizen
You can become a U.S. citizen by birth or through naturalization. Generally, people are born U.S. citizens if they are born in the United States or if they are born abroad to U.S. citizens. You may also derive U.S. citizenship as a minor following the naturalization of one or both parents.
Were you born in the United States or a territory of the United States?
If yes, you may already be a U.S. citizen.
Is at least one of your parents a U.S. citizen?
If yes, refer to Form N-600, Application for Certificate of Citizenship or Form N-600K, Application for Citizenship and Issuance of Certificate for more information. If you have a U.S. citizen parent who is a U.S. citizen by either birth or naturalization you may already be a citizen.
WHAT TO DO: If you are not a U.S. citizen by birth, or did not acquire or derive U.S. citizenship from your parent(s) automatically after birth, go to the next step.
Step 2: Determine your eligibility to become a U.S. citizen
In general, you may qualify for naturalization if you are at least 18 years old and have been a permanent resident for at least 5 years (or 3 years if you are married to a U.S. citizen) and meet all other eligibility requirements.
WHAT TO DO:
- Read Form M-476, A Guide to Naturalization available at www.uscis.gov/natzguide to learn more about naturalization and eligibility requirements.
- Visit the Citizenship Resource Center at www.uscis.gov/citizenship for information on the naturalization test and available study materials.
Note: If you are not eligible, we encourage you to apply when you are eligible.
Step 3: Prepare Form N-400, Application for Naturalization
When you meet all requirements to become a U.S. citizen, complete Form N-400 to apply for naturalization. Download Form N-400 at www.uscis.gov/n-400 or call the USCIS Forms Line at 1-800-870-3676 to request a copy.
WHAT TO DO:
- Complete and sign your Form N-400.
- Get 2 passport-style photos taken.
- Collect the necessary documents to demonstrate your eligibility for naturalization. Refer to A Guide to Naturalization for more information at www.uscis.gov/natzguide.
- Review your Form N-400 and supporting documents.
Note: USCIS may ask for additional information if your application is incomplete. This will delay the processing of your application.
Step 4: Submit Form N-400, Application for Naturalization
Send in your application, photographs, documents, and fees to USCIS. (Refer to www.uscis.gov/n-400 for filing addresses.)Once you submit Form N-400 and get a receipt
notice, you can check current processing times and the status of your application by visiting www.uscis.gov or by calling Customer Service at 1-800-375-5283 or 1-800-767-1833 (hearing impaired).
WHAT TO INCLUDE:
- Form N-400 and biometric services fees, if applicable
- Form N-648, Medical Certification for Disability Exceptions, if applicable. If you are seeking an exception to the English and/or civics requirement for naturalization because of a physical or developmental disability or a mental impairment, submit Form N-648 with your package.
- 2 passport-style photos and any additional evidence demonstrating your eligibility for naturalization.
Refer to Form N-400 instructions for additional documentary requirements. Keep a copy of your completed Form N-400 and any supporting evidence for your records. You will be required to answer questions about your Form N-400 at your naturalization interview.
Step 5: Go to the biometrics appointment, if applicable
USCIS requires applicants to be fingerprinted for the purpose of conducting Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) criminal background checks. All applicants must have background checks completed before USCIS will schedule an interview. If you are 75 years old or older at the time of filing, you are exempted from the fingerprint requirements, but are subject to all other background checks.
WHAT TO INCLUDE:
- Receive an appointment notice that will include your biometrics appointment date, time, and location.
- Arrive at the designated location at the scheduled time.
- Have biometrics taken.
- At a later date, you will receive an appointment notice for your naturalization interview.
Step 6: Complete the interview
Once all the preliminary processes on your case are complete, USCIS will schedule an interview with you to complete the naturalization process. You must report to the USCIS office at the date and time on your appointment notice. Please bring the appointment notice with you.
It is very important not to miss your interview. If you have to miss your interview, you should write to the office where your interview is to be conducted as soon as possible and ask to have your interview rescheduled. Rescheduling an interview may add several months to the naturalization process, so make all attempts to attend your original interview date.
Note: You must notify USCIS if you change your address after filing your Form N-400 within 10 days of your relocation by filing Form AR-11, Change of Address, with USCIS. For information on filing a change of address, go to the USCIS website at www.uscis.gov/addresschange or call Customer Service at 1-800-375-5283. You must notify USCIS EVERY TIME you change your address.
WHAT TO EXPECT:
- At the interview, you will meet with a USCIS officer and answer questions about your Form N-400.
- If you are requesting a medical exception to the English and civics testing requirements, submit Form N-648, Medical Certification for Disability Exceptions if you did not submit it at the time you filed your Form N-400.
- You will take the English and civics tests, unless exempt. Refer to A Guide to Naturalization for more information on exemptions. Visit www.uscis.gov/citizenship for test preparation study materials.
- USCIS will provide you with a notice of interview results following your interview.
- In some cases, the USCIS officer will not be able to make a decision on your Form N-400 the day of your naturalization interview. In those cases, the USCIS officer will continue your case. This may include a request for you to provide additional evidence or require a second interview. Go to STEP 6A for more information on
a continued application.
Note: If your applicationis continued—Go to STEP 6A (or) If your application receives a final decision—Go to STEP 7
Step 6A: Application Continued
The most common reasons for continuation are:
- You fail the English and/or civics test. USCIS will schedule you to come back for another interview within 60-90 days of your first interview. USCIS will only retest you on the part (English or civics) that you failed. USCIS will deny your Form N-400 if you fail the test(s) a second time.
- The USCIS officer determines you need to provide additional documents/evidence. USCIS may ask you to submit additional documents by giving you Form N-14, Request for Additional Information, Documents or Forms. You will need to provide the additional documentation requested to continue the naturalization process.
- You fail to provide USCIS the correct documents.
Step 7: Receive a decision from USCIS on your Form N-400, Application for Naturalization
You will be issued a written notice of decision.
- Granted—USCIS may approve your Form N-400 if the evidence on record establishes your eligibility for naturalization.
- Denied—USCIS will deny your Form N-400 if the evidence on record establishes you are not eligible for naturalization.
Note: If your application is granted—Go to STEP 8 (or) If your application is denied—Go to STEP 7A
Step 7A: Application Denied
You will receive a letter from USCIS explaining the reason for your Form N-400 denial. If you believe that USCIS incorrectly denied your Form N-400, you may request a hearing to appeal this decision.
WHAT TO DO: The denial notice you receive will have instructions on how to appeal the USCIS decision by filing Form N-336, Request for a Hearing on a Decision in
Naturalization Proceedings. Visit www.uscis.gov/n-336 to download the form and detailed instructions. You MUST file Form N-336 with the appropriate fee within 30 days of the Form N-400 decision date. If a request for hearing is not filed within the time allowed, the denial decision is final. Refer to A Guide to Naturalization for more information by visiting www.uscis.gov/natzguide.
Step 8: Receive a notice to take the Oath of Allegiance
WHAT TO EXPECT: You may be able to participate in the oath ceremony on the same day as your interview. If a same day oath ceremony is unavailable, USCIS will mail you a notification with the date, time, and location of your scheduled oath ceremony.
If you cannot attend the oath ceremony on the day USCIS scheduled you, return the USCIS notice Form N-445, Notice of Naturalization Oath Ceremony, to your local USCIS office. Include a letter explaining why you cannot attend the oath ceremony. Ask USCIS to reschedule you.
Step 9: Take the Oath of Allegiance to the United States
You are not a U.S. citizen until you take the Oath of Allegiance at a naturalization ceremony. The oath is administered by USCIS at an administrative ceremony or by a judge in a judicial ceremony. A court has exclusive authority to conduct the ceremonies in certain USCIS districts.
You receive your Certificate of Naturalization after taking the Oath of Allegiance.
WHAT TO DO:
- Complete the questionnaire Form N-445, Notice of Naturalization Oath Ceremony.
- Report for your oath ceremony.
- A USCIS officer will review your responses to Form N-445.
- Turn in your Permanent Resident Card.
- Take the Oath of Allegiance to become a U.S. citizen.
- Receive your Certificate of Naturalization and review it before leaving the ceremony site. Notify USCIS of any corrections to your certificate at that time.
Step 10: Understanding U.S. citizenship
Citizenship is the common thread that connects all Americans. Below is a list of some of the most important rights and responsibilities that all citizens—both Americans by birth and by choice—should exercise, honor, and respect. While some of these responsibilities are legally required of every citizen, all are important to ensure the continued vitality of our country and democracy.
- Freedom to express yourself.
- Freedom to worship as you wish.
- Right to a prompt, fair trial by jury.
- Right to vote in elections for public officials.
- Right to apply for federal employment requiring U.S. citizenship.
- Right to run for elected office.
- Freedom to pursue “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
- Support and defend the U.S. Constitution.
- Stay informed of the issues affecting your community.
- Participate in the democratic process.
- Respect and obey federal, state, and local laws.
- Respect the rights, beliefs, and opinions of others.
- Participate in your local community.
- Pay income and other taxes honestly, and on time, to federal, state, and local authorities.
- Serve on a jury when called upon.
- Defend the country if the need should arise.
The decision to apply for U.S. citizenship is up to each individual. USCIS has a variety of educational resources to help you prepare. You will find information on eligibility and testing, the application process, and study materials. You can also learn more about citizenship rights and responsibilities and find a free USCIS information session in your area.
- U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is the government agency that oversees lawful immigration to the United States. - www.uscis.gov
- The USCIS Citizenship Resource Center provides learners and applicants with a one-stop resource for locating citizenship preparation materials. - www.uscis.gov/citizenship
- USCIS regularly holds free information sessions for the public. Topics covered at these sessions include naturalization eligibility requirements, the naturalization process, and the naturalization test. - www.uscis.gov/citizenshipsessions
- Form M-476, A Guide to Naturalization provides information on the benefits and responsibilities of citizenship, an overview of the naturalization process, eligibility requirements, and what to expect at your naturalization interview. - www.uscis.gov/natzguide
- Form N-400, Application for Naturalization is the form you will use to apply for U.S. citizenship. - www.uscis.gov/n-400
- If you believe you are already a U.S. citizen, determine if you are eligible to file Form N-600, Application for Certificate of Citizenship or Form N-600K, Application for
Citizenship and Issuance of Certificate. - www.uscis.gov/n-600 | www.uscis.gov/n-600k
- To update your address with USCIS, file Form AR-11, Change of Address. - www.uscis.gov/addresschange