The naturalization process that leads to U.S. citizenship involves many steps which are form completion, biometric screening, naturalization interview, oath taking and certificate collection. Each of these steps must be approached with the best clarity of thought to avoid eventuality of delays or denials.
Before starting your naturalization process, you have to be sure that you meet these main requirements to become a U.S. citizen. Having ascertained your eligibility for the naturalization, then you can begin the process as follows.
Filing and Completing Your N-400 Form
The first step to take in your citizenship process is to obtain an Application for Naturalization. You must fill the form according to the instructions and ensure that you do not leave out any part. After filling and submission of your application form, the USCIS will review it, and if the officers are satisfied with the information provided in your form, they will schedule a date for biometric screening. However, if the officials think you have to provide additional evidence, they will contact you to request for that. After the success of biometric screening comes the interview.
Preparation Before Your Citizenship Interview
Before the interview, you must have received an appointment from the USCIS giving you the date and the venue for your interview. The notice is sent only once, for that reason, you must ensure you are checking your mailbox regularly to avoid missing out on the schedule.
After receiving the notice, you can start preparing for the interview. However, if you cannot make it for the interview at the date given by the USCIS, you have the liberty to reschedule another appointment. It must, however, be noted that while the USCIS will grant your request for rescheduling, that may further prolong your naturalization process for several months, so it is always better to endeavor you make it there at the first schedule.
Having made up your mind to attend the interview, it is advisable that you start preparing yourself for the interview right from the onset. For proper preparation, you have to get yourself familiar with the likely scenarios to face at the center, documents to take along, and the kind of interview questions you are going to answer.
What to Expect at the Citizenship Interview
It is very likely that you are going to meet others who are there for the same purpose. You may have to wait for a few minutes before it gets to your turn for the interview. When it is time, you will be called in to meet an official who will conduct the interview. USCIS officials are professionals who are very knowledgeable in their field; they are always ready to welcome you. So, you can be sure of getting a first class customer service at their office.
How Long Will the Citizenship Interview Last?
The USCIS officers are very time-conscious and are always consistent with their duties. So before you are called in, they would have prepared all necessary documents pertaining to your own application status, which will help speed up the process. However, you are required to give the officials maximum cooperation by responding accurately and truthfully to all the questions you are asked in the process, and by getting all the documents you are to take along ready with you. So, bearing any hitches, the session will be quite timely.
What Documents Am I to Take Along?
The documents you are to take along with you while going for the interview include:
- Your I-1551 permanent resident card,
- Your passport (even if it is expired)
- Your state identification card
- Any re-entry permits you have
- Your interview appointment notice
Please note that apart from the above documents, the USCIS may ask you to come with additional documents. If this is required of you, it must have been sent along with your appointment letter. Failure to present any of the required evidence will lead to your application being denied or delayed. So, be very sure you double-check and ascertain that all the items are with you before leaving home for the interview. Get to the interview center at least 30 minutes before the time of your interview.
What Citizenship Interview Questions Should I Expect?
The interview questions are in three categories:
1. Questions About Your Application and Background
These are set of questions for the USCIS officer to know more about your background and to be sure you are truthful in all the information you provided in your application form. The usual procedures for these are:
- At the onset, the officer interviewing you will explain to you the essence of these questions and why it is important for you to be truthful.
- Then, he/she will place you under oath (explain how the oath is taken). Remember that it is a crime against the state to lie under oath, so be very honest in answering the questions.
- You will answer questions bothering on your background.
- You will also be questioned on the supporting evidence in your form to establish their accuracy.
- The officer would want to know your place of residence and how long you have been living there.
- You will be asked about your attachment to the constitution, this is to know if you are going to be law-abiding if granted citizenship, and
- Your willingness to take an oath of allegiance to the United States.
Apart from the above questions, the officer may ask you other questions needed to ensure you meet all requirements for eligibility status.
2. English Language Test
These are questions to test your literacy to determine if you can read, write, and speak the English language at least at the basic level. The steps are:
Reading: You will be given three sentences to read. Out of these three sentences, you must read at least one convincingly in a manner that suggests to the USCIS officer that you understand the meaning of the sentence.
Writing: You will be given three sentences to write out of which you must write one in a manner that will be understandable as written by the USCIS officer.
Speaking: Your ability to speak English is usually determined by how you answer questions during your naturalization eligibility interview on the N-400. In other words, your ability to speak English is being tested and assessed as you communicate with the interviewing officer.
3. Civics Test
Here you will be given 10 oral questions bothering on histories, and general knowledge about the United States. Out of the 10 questions, you must answer at least 6 to achieve a passing score. All 100 questions out of which your 10 questions will be selected can be found here. This is one of your preparation processes. You are expected to have gone through and understand the questions before your interview day. This will help you in answering them faster and better.
Citizenship Interview Result
Having answered the questions in all the categories to the USCIS officer’s satisfaction, the next thing is to receive a decision. You will be given an N-625 form, which will show the information about your interview result based on your performance during the whole process. The decision can be in three ways which could be any of these – “granted”, “continued”, or “denied.”
Continued Citizenship Application
If your application is to be continued after the interview, this means your case is put on hold, which will prolong the application process. This usually happens when you fail to perform well in the tests or you did not give the USCIS the correct documents as required for your application.
Denied Citizenship Application
For a denied application, you will be sent a written letter telling you why your application is denied. It must, however, be noted that the denial does not mean the end of the process as you can explore these other options provided by the law to settle citizenship denials and delays cases. The options include requesting a hearing with a new immigration officer, and a district court review request.
Granted Citizenship Application
This means your interview is successful and you are qualified to take an oath of allegiance to the U.S. Sometimes, you may have the chance of taking the oath immediately after the successful interview. However, if that is not available in your own case, you will be sent a notice to know when and where your oath ceremony will take place.
What Next After I Receive My Citizenship Certificate?
Congratulations on the completion the process and your new status, but while you bask in the euphoria of your newly acquired U.S. citizenship, there are a few steps you have to take further to formalize your new status fully.
It is strongly recommended by the USCIS that you update your social security record soon after your oath taking ceremony. You should proceed to the social security Administration nearest to you to update your record. You need to update your social security record because, without that, your eligibility for benefits due to you as a citizen will not be established.
Apart from the social security update, another thing you need to get done soon after your oath ceremony is the application for a U.S. passport. Without the passport, you will not be able to travel abroad. So, it is always advised that you apply for and possess your U.S. passport before you plan your next travel abroad after your new status.
Having acquired your citizenship, update your social security records, and in possession of your U.S. passport, you can exercise all the rights as a U.S. citizen.
How Our Immigration Attorneys Can Help
The USCIS understands the significance of citizenship certificate, and how costly a mistake in the process can be for an applicant. To this end, they made a provision for legal representation during the interview process. It is imperative that you maximize this advantage and get yourself an immigration expert who can guide you in filing the application and all through the entire process.
At Immi-USA, we have citizenship lawyers who are well-grounded in handling citizenship interview cases. Engaging our attorneys will guarantee you a successful interview at the USCIS office. Why not fill out this our contact form to book an appointment with us?
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