How to apply for American Citizenship?

Anaz Ima
Anaz Ima July 8, 2022
Updated 2023/10/04 at 2:40 PM

US citizenship for immigrants can be obtained in several ways, but the process may not be so simple, especially after a series of measures taken by the government of President Donald Trump to stop migration in the country .

The process is called ” naturalization ” and its duration can vary depending on the applicant’s situation, according to the United States Government.

These are some steps to apply for US citizenship if you are an immigrant.

Councilman: They want to scare immigrants in the US.3:03

First step, be a resident

A person born in the United States is already a US citizen, but those born in other countries can access citizenship for two reasons:

– If your parents are US citizens
– By naturalization

To access naturalization it is necessary to meet three requirements:

– Being over 18 years.
– Be a permanent resident, that is, have a Green Card or Permanent Resident Card.
– Meet other requirements that may vary according to your age, marital status and military service.

How to obtain a ‘Green Card’?

This may ultimately be one of the biggest obstacles when it comes to wanting to naturalize in the US, since not all immigrants meet the requirements to access a Permanent Resident Card.

In addition, the Trump administration issued a rule in 2019 that could drastically reduce the number of legal immigrants allowed to enter and remain in the US by making it easier to reject green card applications.

The rule means that many green card and visa applicants could be turned away if they have low incomes or little education because they would be considered more likely to need government assistance in the future .

To apply, you must be eligible in one of these categories :

1. Family green card

Immediate relatives of a US citizen such as a spouse, unmarried children under the age of 21, or parents of a US citizen who are at least 21 years of age are eligible for this category.

Married or unmarried children over the age of 21 of US citizens and siblings of a US citizen are also eligible.

And the spouses and unmarried children of a legal resident may be eligible for Green Cards.

They can also apply for permanent residence cards:

– Fiancées (and their children) of a US citizen – Widow(ers)
of a US citizen
– Victims of abuse or extreme cruelty by a US citizen.

2. Through a job

– If you are an immigrant worker with extraordinary abilities in the sciences, arts, education, business or sports; leading researcher, manager of a company. Or if you have certain special job skills.

– Physicians with National Interest Exemption: apply if you are a doctor and agree to work full time in the medical field in areas with little medical access for a certain period. For this you must meet other eligibility requirements.

– Being an immigrant investor: You must invest at least one million dollars in a new commercial company in the country and give full employment to at least 10 qualified employees.

3. Special immigrant

This category applies to religious workers, special immigrant youth, international media representatives, or employees (and their families) of an international organization. In the case of Afghan or Iraqi special immigrants, they must have been Afghan or Iraqi translators for the United States government, employed by or for the United States government in Iraq on or after March 20, 2003 for at least one year, and have been employed by the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).

4. If you are a refugee or asylee

Immigrants can have refugee status if they have suffered persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality or for belonging to certain social groups or having certain political opinions, according to the USCIS . Usually these people “are out of their countries who are unable or unwilling to return because they fear serious personal harm.”

To apply for asylum in the United States, you must “meet the refugee definition,” either be in the United States or apply at a US gate of entry.

Asylees can apply for a green card one year after asylum was granted. To do this, it is necessary to present a form, the application for permanent residence or adjustment of status.

5. If you are a victim of human trafficking and other crimes

If you are a victim of human trafficking and have a T Nonimmigrant visa , you may be eligible to apply for a green card. This type of visa “allows victims to remain in the United States and assist law enforcement authorities in the criminal investigation or prosecution of human trafficking cases.”

For victims of other crimes, who have a U nonimmigrant visa, they can also apply for a permanent resident card. These people “have suffered substantial mental or physical abuse as a result of the crime.”

6. Other cases

Citizens of Liberia who have been in the country continuously since 2014.
If you are part of the diversity visa program, by the Cuban adjustment law, among others.

(On the official website of the US government you can see the eligibility categories in detail).

After the Green Card

If you already have a green card, the naturalization process now has other steps you must take in order to become a citizen.

– Have been a permanent resident for at least five years before submitting the naturalization application.

– Have lived for at least three months in the same district or state where the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) has jurisdiction, for at least three months before submitting the application.

– Have been physically in the United States for at least 30 months in the last five years before applying for naturalization.

– Reside continuously in the country from the date of application until the naturalization authorization.

– You must be able to read, write, and speak English and have knowledge of US history and government.

– Be a person with “good moral conduct”, who respects the law, the Constitution and has “a good disposition for the good order, happiness and well-being” of the country.

Form N-400

Once you determine that you meet the requirement, you must fill out a form to apply for naturalization.

It’s called Form N-400, which you can file online or in print. The cost of this form is 640 dollars plus 85 dollars for biometric services , which in total would be 725 dollars, although the fee may vary, depending on the case.

See more information about this process here 

The form must be sent along with the necessary documentation and proof of payment .


This process is necessary for certain people applying for immigration benefits so that the FBI can do a criminal background check .

Once the USCIS receives the application, it will give you an appointment to do the process at the closest place authorized by the United States Citizenship Service.

Those who apply for this process abroad can do so at a United States consulate or military base outside the country and do not have to go to a USCIS office and are exempt from the fee for this process.

interview and exam

It is necessary to answer an interview in which the applicant must pass an exam, which consists of a civics test and an English test .

The civics test is about US history and government, and the English test has three parts: speaking, reading, and writing. The English test is required unless you are applying for a disability waiver or if the person is over 50 years of age.

oath ceremony

Once you have passed the exam and interview, you will need to attend an oath ceremony to officially become a United States citizen. There you will receive a naturalization certificate.

This gives you the right to receive US protection, to vote in elections and to live permanently in the country. In addition, you have the obligation to obey the rules of the United States, file taxes and, if you are a man between 18 and 25 years old, you will have to enroll in the military service system.

At the end of this ceremony then request your passport.

For more information, you can call the USCIS National Customer Service Center in the United States at 1-800-375-5283 (option 2 for Spanish) or 1-800-767-1833 (TTY, for people with hearing problems).

While abroad, you can contact the US embassy in the country where you are.

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