Naturalization is the process in which an individual not born in the United States becomes a citizen. There are several basic requirements needed for naturalization:
- Must be 18 years of age.
- Must be a permanent resident for a minimum of 5 years (with a minimum of 30 months occupancy in the United States).
- Must have lived at least 3 months in the district or state of application.
- Be able to speak, read and write basic English.
- Be able to answer basic questions about U.S. history and government.
- Be an individual of good moral standing.
- Demonstrate a belief in the U.S. Constitution.
The naturalization process is extremely important where it is determined if the individual is already a U.S. citizen or whether or not the individual is eligible to become a U.S. citizen. The individual must prepare and submit the appropriate forms and show understanding of the rights and responsibilities of becoming a citizen of the United States by participating in an interview. It is during this interview that the USCIS officer will ask questions about the applicant's Form N-400 and administer the speaking, reading, writing and civics test. Once completed, the applicant will await the decision and upon notification, the individual will take the Oath of Allegiance to the United States.
Once an individual becomes a citizen, he or she can is then able to participate in the voting process in our democracy. His or her citizenship will not expire, and he or she will never have to be concerned with losing his or her legal status and being forced to return to his or her country of origin. There is no waiting period to become naturalized, but it is extremely important that careful attention is applied to the process.