Citizenship is conferred on someone who has been a Legal Permanent Resident for five (5) years, been a person of “good moral character” and is over the age of 18. If a person is under the age of 18, they may become automatically naturalized if they have at least one U.S. citizen parent. In the event that you obtained your LPR status through marriage, however, you need to only wait the three (3) years. And, the two (2) years “conditional legal permanent residency” counts toward the three (3) years.
The citizenship application includes submitting form N-400 (Application for Naturalization), copy of your green card, passport style photos, the required fee, and in some cases, certain supporting documents as well. Anytime within one month of the submission of your application, you will be asked to be fingerprinted for purposes of a criminal background check. The first notice that USCIS will send is the receipt notice, indicating that they received ans accepted your application for filing. A few weeks (2-3) after this, you will receive a fingerprint appointment indicating the date and time for your fingerprints to be taken. Next notice will be the interview notice. All notices are entitled Form I-797C, Notice of Action. Interview times have varied from as little as 5 months to 2 years after the filing of the application, but USCIS provides waiting times on its website. See, www.uscis.gov.
When you appear at your interview, you will be given a U.S. Citizenship examination which tests your knowledge of the English language and the U.S. government and history. You must pass this test to be eligible. Certain applicants have different English and civics testing requirements based on their age and length of lawful permanent residence at the time of filing. If you are over 50 years of age and have lived in the United States as a lawful permanent resident for periods totaling at least 20 years, or if you are 55 years of age and have lived in the United States as a lawful permanent resident for periods totaling at least 15 years, you do not have to take the English test, but you do have to take the civics test in the language of your choice. If you are over 65 years of age and have lived in the United States as a lawful permanent resident for periods totaling at least 20 years, you do not have to take the English test, but you do have to take a simpler version of the civics test in the language of your choice.
If you are in the military and are interested in becoming a U.S. Citizen, please see the M-599, Naturalization Information for Military guide on the USCIS website.
After your swearing-in ceremony, you are provided a certificate of citizenship which cannot be taken away, except where USCIS asserts that you obtained it by fraud. You hold the same rights as any other U.S. citizen. Therefore, you cannot lose your citizenship if you leave the United States for any extended period of time nor be deported if you commit a crime. And, lastly, you may begin to sponsor other relatives as Legal Permanent Residence, which is the basis for faster applications for any particular beneficiary.
Denial & Appeals
Usually, USCIS provides you written notice of your denial, states the reasons, and provides instructions on how and where to appeal. Your appeal is initially submitted to the USCIS itself. In the event that USCIS denies your appeal, you may also appeal to the Federal District Court in the circuit in which you live.