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U.S. CITIZENSHIP OR NATURALIZATION

There are two ways to acquire the U.S. Citizenship:

  1. By operation of law, such as for children born in the United States.
  2. By filing an application and upon satisfaction of statutory eligibility requirements. U.S. citizens have certain rights and benefits not available to green card holders.

The conditions to be met with to become the U.S. citizen are the following:

  • Applicant must be at least 18 years old. There are two exceptions to the general rule. Persons who honorably served in the military during designated periods may naturalize regardless of age. Also minors with at least one citizen parent may be naturalized upon the application of the parent.
  • You must show that you are a person of good moral character.
  • You should have been permanent resident for five (5) years. However, if you acquired your permanent residency through a marriage to U.S. citizen, you may apply after three (3) years. By law a person can file a naturalization application three months early. However, five or three year's requirement must be fulfilled before the grant of citizenship.
  • You were physically present in the United States for 2 ½ years of the five years, 1 ½ years of the three years.
  • You must reside within the state or within the USCIS district where the application will be filed at least three months immediately preceding the filing of the application.
  • Continuous residence exemption: If you are engaged in certain kinds of overseas employment you may be eligible for an exception to the continuous residence requirement. More details are available at the link below.

    http://www.uscis.gov/us-citizenship/citizenship-through-naturalization/continuous-residence-and-physical-presence-requirements-naturalization

  • While not specifically stated in the regulation, failure to comply with the Selective Service registration requirement can be a ground for denying an application for naturalization based on lack of good moral character or other basis, if the person knowingly and willfully failed to register.
  • A person must take the full oath or affirmation of allegiance to the United States, without any mental reservation.

During your naturalization interview, a USCIS officer will ask you questions about your application and background. You will also take an English and civics test unless you qualify for an exemption or waiver.

English and Civics Test

The English language test has three components: reading, writing, and speaking. Under certain circumstances, you may be exempt from the English language test. However you still need to take the civic tests. Exemptions for the English Language test are as follows:
  • “The 50/20 Exemption”: Age 50 or older at the time of filing for naturalization and have lived as a permanent resident (green card holder) in the United States for 20 years.
  • “The 55/15 Exemption”: Age 55 or older at the time of filing for naturalization and have lived as a permanent resident in the United States for 15 years.

Exemptions for English and Civic Test:

  • You may be eligible for an exception to English and civics naturalization requirements if you are unable to comply with these requirements because of a physical or developmental disability or mental impairment.
The civics test covers important U.S. history and government topics. There are 100 civics (history and government) questions. Although USCIS is aware that there may be additional correct answers to the 100 civics questions, applicants are encouraged to respond to the civics questions using the answers provided at the end of this page.

Important:

  • On the naturalization test, some answers may change because of elections or appointments. As you study for the test, make sure that you know the most current answers to these questions. If you are 65 years or older and have been a legal permanent resident of the United States for 20 or more years, you may study just the questions that have been marked with an asterisk.
  • Usually at the time of biometric test, you will be given a CD which has all the current questions. Study these questions and answers prior to your interview date.

FAQs for Naturalization

Who is born a U.S. Citizen?

  1. If you were born in the United States, including, in most cases the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the territories of Guam and U.S. Virgin Islands, and after November 4, 1986, the commonwealth of Northern Marina Islands.
  2. If you were born abroad to two U.S. Citizens, and at least one of your parents lived in the United States at some point in his or her life.
  3. If you were born abroad to a U.S. Citizen and all of the following are true:
    1. One of your parents was a U.S. Citizen when you were born.
    2. Your parent lived at least five years in the United States before you were born.
    3. At least two of those 5 years in the United States were after your citizen parent’s 14th birthday.

When does my time as a permanent resident begin?

Your time as a permanent resident begins on the date you were granted permanent resident status.

What form do I use to file for naturalization?

You should use an “Application for Naturalization” (Form N-400).

Where do I file my naturalization application?

Our law firm can help you with the entire application and interview process after you retain our services. We will send your completed “Application for Naturalization” (Form N-400) to the appropriate USCIS Lockbox Facility that serves your area. Members of the Armed Forces and spouses of active members of the Armed Forces have a separate filing process.

If I have been convicted of crime but my record has been expunged, do I need to write that on my application or tell a USCIS’s officer?

Yes, you should always be honest with USCIS about all:
  1. Arrests (even if you were not charged or convicted)
  2. Convictions (even if your record was cleared or expunged)
  3. Crimes you have committed for which you were not arrested or convicted, and
  4. Any countervailing evidence, or evidence in you favor concerning the circumstances of your arrests, and/or convictions or offenses that you would like USCIS to consider.

Where is my local USCIS office?

To find the local USCIS office that serves your area, please use the field office locator at: http://www.uscis.gov/about-us/find-uscis-office/field-offices

What is the fee for processing an N-400 Application for Naturalization?

$595 (Add $85 biometric fee for a total of $680, where applicable. See form instructions for payment details). No fee is required for military applicants filing under Section 328 and 329 of the INA. Applicants 75 years of age or older are not charged a biometric fee.

How can I pay my application fee?

You must send the fee with your application. Pay the fee with a check or money order drawn on a U.S. Bank payable to the Department of Homeland Security. Do not use initials DHS or USDHS. Do not send cash.

How long will it take to become naturalized?

The time it takes to be naturalized varies by location. USCIS is continuing to modernize and improve the naturalization process and would like to decrease the time it takes to an average of 6 months from after N-400 is filed.

Where can I get fingerprinted?

After USCIS receives your application, they will inform you where you should get fingerprinted.

What if I cannot go to my scheduled interview?

It is very important not to miss your interview. If you have to miss your interview, consult with your attorney and write to the office where your interview is to be conducted as soon as possible and ask to have your interview rescheduled. Please note that rescheduling an interview may add several months to the naturalization process, so it is crucial that you make all attempts to attend your interview’s original date. If you miss your interview without informing USCIS, then they will “administratively close” your case. If your case is closed because you missed your interview, then USCIS will notify you at your last address of record. Therefore it is very important that you inform USCIS of any address changes. Unless you contact USCIS to schedule an interview within 1 year after they close your case, USCIS will deny your application.

What do I do if my address has changed?

It is very important that USCIS has your current address. If USCIS does not have your current address, you will miss out on important information sent by them. You can always call customer serve at 1-800-375-5283 to change your address on pending N-400 applications.

Every time you move, you are required by law to inform USCIS of your new address. To meet this requirement, you must file an “Alien’s Change of Address Card” (Form AR-11), in addition to calling Customer Service. You must file the Form AR-11 within 10 days of your move. There is no fee to file this form. You should also notify the U.S. Postal Service of your new address to help ensure that any mail already on its way may be forwarded to you.

Can I change my name when I naturalize?

Congress has not given USCIS the legal authority to change a person’s name when that person naturalizes. However, there are two ways that USCIS can issue your Certificate of Naturalization under a new name:
  1. If you present proof that you have already changed your name according to the legal requirements that apply to persons living in your state, USCIS can issue the Certificate of Naturalization with new name. You must submit one of the following showing that you have changed your name: i) a marriage certificate, ii) a divorce certificate, or iii) state court order.
  2. If you take your Oath of Allegiance at a Naturalization Ceremony that is held in Court, you may ask this Court to change your name. If the Court grants this request that your new name will appear on your Certificate of Naturalization.

If USCIS grants me naturalization, when will I become a citizen?

You become a citizen as soon as you take the Oath of Allegiance to the United States in a formal naturalization ceremony. In some places, you can choose to take the oath the same day as your interview. If that option is not available, or if you prefer a ceremony at a later date, USCIS will notify you of the ceremony date with a “Notice of Naturalization Oath Ceremony” (Form N-445).

What should I do if I cannot go to my oath ceremony?

If you cannot go to the oath ceremony, you should return the “Notice of Naturalization Oath Ceremony” (Form N-445) that you received to your local USCIS office. Include a letter saying why you cannot go to the ceremony. Make a copy of the notice and your letter before you send them to USCIS. Your local USCIS office will reschedule you and send you a new “Notice of Naturalization Oath Ceremony” (Form N-445) to tell you when your ceremony will be.

What can I do if USCIS denies my application?

We strongly recommend that you consult with an attorney first. Our attorneys will help you request a hearing with an immigration officer. Your denial letter will explain how to request a hearing and will include the form you need. The form for filing an appeal is the “Request for Hearing on a Decision in Naturalization Proceedings under Section 336 of the INA” (Form N-336). You must file the form, including the correct fee, to USCIS within 30 days after you receive a denial letter.

If, after an appeal hearing with USCIS, you still believe you have been wrongly denied naturalization, you may file a petition for a new review of your application in U.S. District Court, with the help of your attorney.

Can I reapply for naturalization if USCIS denies my application?

In many cases, you may reapply. If you reapply, you will need to complete and resubmit a new Form N-400 and pay the fee again. You will also need to have your fingerprints and photographs taken again. If your application is denied, the denial letter should indicate the date you may reapply for citizenship.

If you are denied because you failed the English or civics test, you may reapply for naturalization as soon as you want. You should reapply whenever you believe you have learned enough English or civics to pass both tests.

What do I do if I lose my Naturalization Certificate? How can I prove my U.S. Citizenship in this instance?

You may get a new Certificate of Naturalization by submitting an “Application for Replacement Naturalization/Citizenship Document” (Form N-565) to USCIS. You may request Form N-565 by calling the USCIS Forms Line (1-800-870-3676), or by downloading the form at www.uscis.gov. Submit this form with the appropriate fee to the Nebraska or Texas Service Center, depending on which Service Center has jurisdiction over your residence.

If you have one, you may use your U.S. passport as evidence of citizenship while you wait for a replacement certificate. It is strongly recommended that you apply for a passport as soon as you become a citizen.

If my Permanent Resident Card expires while I am applying for naturalization, do I still need to apply for a new card?

If you apply for naturalization 6 months or more before the expiration date on your Permanent Resident Card (formerly known as an Alien Registration Card or “Green Card”), you do not have to apply for a new card. However, you may apply for a renewal card if you wish by using an “Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card” (Form I-90) and paying the appropriate fee.

If you apply for naturalization less than 6 months before the expiration date on your Permanent Resident Card, or do not apply for naturalization until your card has already expired, you must renew your card.



The 100 civic questions and answers provided by USCIS are as follows:

AMERICAN GOVERNMENT

Principles of American Democracy

1. What is the supreme law of the land?

the Constitution

2. What does the Constitution do?

sets up the government

defines the government

protects basic rights of Citizens

3. The idea of self-government is in the first three words of the Constitution. What are these words?

We the People

4. What is an amendment?

a change (to the Constitution)

an addition (to the Constitution)

5. What do we call the first ten amendments to the Constitution?

the Bill of Rights

6. What is one right or freedom from the First Amendment?*

speech

religion

assembly

press

petition the government

7. How many amendments does the Constitution have?

twenty-seven (27)

8. What did the Declaration of Independence do?

announced our independence (from Great Britain)

declared our independence (from Great Britain)

said that the United States is free (from Great Britain)

9. What are two rights in the Declaration of Independence?

life

liberty

pursuit of happiness

10. What is freedom of religion?

You can practice any religion, or not practice a religion.

11. What is the economic system in the United States?*

capitalist economy

market economy

12. What is the “rule of law”?

Everyone must follow the law.

Leaders must obey the law.

Government must obey the law.

No one is above the law.

B: System of Government

13. Name one branch or part of the government.*

Congress

legislative

President

executive

the courts

judicial

14. What stops one branch of government from becoming too powerful?

checks and balances

separation of powers

15. Who is in charge of the executive branch?

the President

16. Who makes federal laws?

Congress

Senate and House (of Representatives)

(U.S. or national) legislature

17. What are the two parts of the U.S. Congress?*

the Senate and House (of Representatives)

18. How many U.S. Senators are there?

one hundred (100)

19. For how many years a U.S. Senator is elected?

six (6)

20. Name one of your state's U.S. Senators now?*

Answers will vary. [District of Columbia residents and residents of U.S. territories should answer that D.C.

(or the territory where the applicant lives) has no U.S. Senators.]

As of 02/11/2014), the U.S. Senators in the DMV area are as follows:

U.S. Senators for Maryland: Benjamin L Cardin and Barbara A. Mikulski

U.S. Senators for Virginia: Tim Kaine and Mark R. Warner U.S. Senators for District of Columbia: No Senators

Please remember that these answers after each election results.

21. How many voting members will be there in the House of Representatives ?

four hundred thirty-five (435)

22. For how many years a U.S. Representative is elected?

two (2)

23. Name your U.S. Representative.

Answers will vary. [Residents of territories with nonvoting Delegates or Resident Commissioners may

provide the name of that Delegate or Commissioner. Also acceptable is any statement that the territory has

no (voting) Representatives in Congress.]

A directory for U.S. Representatives can be found at:

http://www.house.gov/representatives/

24. Whom does a U.S. Senator represent?

all people of the state

25. Why do some states have more Representatives than other states?

(because of) the state's population and some States have more population

26. We elect a President for how many years?

four (4)

27. In what month do we vote for President?*

November

28. What is the name of the President of the United States now?*

Barack Obama

Obama

29. What is the name of the Vice President of the United States now?

Joseph R. Biden, Jr.

Joe Biden

Biden

30. If the President can no longer serve, who becomes President?

the Vice President

31. If both the President and the Vice President can no longer serve, who becomes President?

the Speaker of the House

32. Who is the Commander in Chief of the military?

the President

33. Who signs bills to become laws?

the President

34. Who vetoes bills?

the President

35. What does the President's Cabinet do?

advises the President

36. What are two Cabinet-level positions?

Secretary of Agriculture

Secretary of Commerce

Secretary of Defense

Secretary of Education

Secretary of Energy

Secretary of Health and Human Services

Secretary of Homeland Security

Secretary of Housing and Urban Development

Secretary of the Interior

Secretary of Labor

Secretary of State

Secretary of Transportation

Secretary of the Treasury

Secretary of Veterans Affairs

Attorney General

Vice President

37. What does the judicial branch do?

reviews laws

explains laws

resolves disputes (disagreements)

decides if a law goes against the Constitution

38. What is the highest court in the United States?

the Supreme Court

39. How many judges are there in the Supreme Court?

nine (9)

40. Who is the Chief Justice of the United States now?

John Roberts (John G. Roberts, Jr.) (as of 02/11/2014)

41. Under our Constitution, some powers belong to the federal government. Mention some powers of the federal government?

to print money

to declare war

to create an army

to make treaties

42. Under our Constitution, some powers belong to the states. Mention some powers of the states?

provide schooling and education

provide protection (police)

provide safety (fire departments)

give a driver's license

approve zoning and land use

43. Who is the Governor of your state now?

Answers will vary. [District of Columbia residents should answer that D.C. does not have a Governor.]

As of 02/11/2014

Governor for Maryland: Martin O’Malley

Governor for Virginia: Terry McAuliffe

44. What is the capital of your state?*

Answers will vary. [District of Columbia residents should answer that D.C. is not a state and does not have a capital. Residents of U.S. territories should name the capital of the territory.]

Capital of Maryland: Annapolis

Capital of Virginia: Richmond

45. What are the two major political parties in the United States?*

Democratic and Republican

46. What is the political party of the President now?

Democratic (Party) as of 02/11/2014

47. Who is the Speaker of the House of Representatives now?

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, as of 02/11/2014 is John Boehner

C: Rights and Responsibilities

48. There are four amendments to the Constitution about who can vote. Describe one of them.

Citizens eighteen (18) and older (can vote).

You don't have to pay (a poll tax) to vote.

Any citizen can vote. (Women and men can vote.)

A male citizen of any race (can vote).

49. What is the responsibility that is exclusive for United States citizens?*

serve on a jury

vote in a federal election

50. What are the rights that are exclusive for United States citizens.

vote in a federal election

run for federal office

51. What are the rights that are available to all residents of the United States?

freedom of expression

freedom of speech

freedom of assembly

freedom to petition the government

freedom of worship

the right to bear arms

52. Whom should we show loyalty when we say the Pledge of Allegiance?

the United States

the flag

53. What promise you should make when you become a United States citizen?

give up loyalty to other countries

defend the Constitution and laws of the United States

obey the laws of the United States

serve in the U.S. military (if needed)

serve (do important work for) the nation (if needed)

be loyal to the United States

54. What is the voting age to vote for President?*

eighteen (18) and older

55. What are the ways that Americans can participate in their democracy?

vote

join a political party

help with a campaign

join a civic group

join a community group

give an elected official your opinion on an issue

call Senators and Representatives

publicly support or oppose an issue or policy

run for office

write to a newspaper

56. When is the last day you can send in federal income tax forms?*

April 15

57. When must all men register for the Selective Service?

▪ If you are a man ages 18 through 25 and living in the U.S., then you must register with Selective Service. It’s the law. According to law, a man must register with Selective Service within 30 days of his 18th birthday. Selective Service will accept late registrations but not after a man has reached age 26.

AMERICAN HISTORY

A: Colonial Period and Independence

58. What for colonists came to America?

freedom

political liberty

religious freedom

economic opportunity

practice their religion

escape persecution

59. Who lived in America before the Europeans arrived?

American Indians

Native Americans

60. Which group of people was taken to America and sold as slaves?

Africans

people from Africa

61. Why did the colonists fight the British?

because of high taxes (taxation without representation)

because the British army occupied their houses (boarding, quartering)

because they didn't have self-government

62. Who wrote the Declaration of Independence?

(Thomas) Jefferson

63. When was the Declaration of Independence adopted?

July 4, 1776

64. There were 13 original states. Name three.

New Hampshire

Massachusetts

Rhode Island

Connecticut

New York

New Jersey

Pennsylvania

Delaware

Maryland

Virginia

North Carolina

South Carolina

Georgia

65. What happened at the Constitutional Convention?

The Constitution was written.

The Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution.

66. When was the Constitution written?

1787

67. The Federalist Papers supported the passage of the U.S. Constitution. Name the writers.

(James) Madison

(Alexander) Hamilton

(John) Jay

Publius

68. What is one thing Benjamin Franklin is famous for?

U.S. diplomat

oldest member of the Constitutional Convention

first Postmaster General of the United States

writer of “Poor Richard's Almanac”

started the first free libraries

69. Who is the “Father of Our Country”?

(George) Washington

70. Who was the first President?*

(George) Washington

71. What territory did the United States buy from France in 1803?

the Louisiana Territory

Louisiana

72. Name the wars fought by the United States in the 1800s.

War of 1812

Mexican-American War

Civil War

Spanish-American War

73. Name the U.S. war between the North and the South.

the Civil War

the War between the States

74. Name the problems that led to the Civil War.

slavery

economic reasons

states' rights

75. What were the important things that Abraham Lincoln did?*

freed the slaves (Emancipation Proclamation)

saved (or preserved) the Union

led the United States during the Civil War

76. What did the Emancipation Proclamation do?

freed the slaves

freed slaves in the Confederacy

freed slaves in the Confederate states

freed slaves in most Southern states

77. What did Susan B. Anthony do?

fought for women's rights

fought for civil rights

C: Recent American History and Other Important Historical Information

78. Name the wars fought by the United States in the 1900s.*

World War I

World War II

Korean War

Vietnam War

(Persian) Gulf War

79. Who was President during World War I?

(Woodrow) Wilson

80. Who was President during the Great Depression and World War II?

(Franklin) Roosevelt

81. Who did the United States fight in World War II?

Japan, Germany, and Italy

82. Before he was President, Eisenhower was a general. What war was he in?

World War II

83. During the Cold War, what was the main concern of the United States?

Communism

84. What movement tried to end racial discrimination?

civil rights (movement)

85. What did Martin Luther King, Jr. do?*

fought for civil rights

worked for equality for all Americans

86. What major event happened on September 11, 2001, in the United States?

Terrorists attacked the United States.

87. Name some American Indian tribes in the United States.

[USCIS Officers will be supplied with a list of federally recognized American Indian tribes.]

Cherokee

Navajo

Sioux

Chippewa

Choctaw

Pueblo

Apache

Iroquois

Creek

Blackfeet

Seminole

Cheyenne

Arawak

Shawnee

Mohegan

Huron

Oneida

Lakota

Crow

Teton

Hopi

Inuit

INTEGRATED CIVICS

A: Geography

88. Name the two longest rivers in the United States.

Missouri (River)

Mississippi (River)

89. What ocean is on the West Coast of the United States?

Pacific (Ocean)

90. What ocean is on the East Coast of the United States?

Atlantic (Ocean)

91. Name some U.S. territories.

Puerto Rico

U.S. Virgin Islands

American Samoa

Northern Mariana Islands

Guam

92. Name the States that border Canada.

Maine

New Hampshire

Vermont

New York

Pennsylvania

Ohio

Michigan

Minnesota

North Dakota

Montana

Idaho

Washington

Alaska

93. Name State that border Mexico.

California

Arizona

New Mexico

Texas

94. What is the capital of the United States?*

Washington, D.C.

95. Where is the Statue of Liberty?*

New York (Harbor)

Liberty Island

[Also acceptable are New Jersey, near New York City, and on the Hudson (River).]

96. Why does the flag have 13 stripes?

because there were 13 original colonies and the stripes represent the original colonies

97. Why does the flag have 50 stars?*

There are 50 States and each star represents each State

98. What is the name of the national anthem?

The Star-Spangled Banner

C: Holidays

99. When do we celebrate Independence Day?*

July 4

100. Name the U.S. national holidays.

New Year's Day

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Presidents' Day

Memorial Day

Independence Day

Labor Day

Columbus Day

Veterans Day

Thanksgiving

Christmas

U.S. Naturalization Requirements


The information contained on this site is offered only for general informational and educational propose and does not constitute a legal advice or opinion. All efforts are being made to keep this information current, but it may not be guaranteed that it applies to your specific case, and should not be relied upon or acted without seeking the advice of qualified attorney.