The path to citizenship for legal immigrants to the United States is far from short, and it can often be difficult to do it alone. The criteria you have to meet and the procedures you have to follow to become a naturalized citizen require a lot of work and a great deal of attention to detail, and one mistake along the way could significantly delay your application or prevent you from becoming a citizen entirely.

If you want to apply to become a legal citizen, retaining the services of a San Diego citizenship lawyer should be one of your first calls. The assistance of a qualified immigration attorney at Hacking Immigration Law LLC could be crucial not only to ensure you provide the proper documentation to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), but also prepare you to back up that documentation during your naturalization interview.

Who Is Eligible to Become a Naturalized Citizen?

To apply to become a naturalized citizen of the United States, an immigrant must already have been a legal permanent resident—meaning they have possessed a green card—for at least five years prior to applying. They also must be at least 18 years old to file for citizenship independently, although minors can apply to become naturalized citizens based on their parents’ citizenship by naturalization or birth. Additional prerequisites mandated by USCIS include:

  • Continuous residence in the U.S. for at least five years prior to filing, including at least 30 months of physical presence within U.S. borders
  • At least three months of residence in the state or USCIS district in which the naturalization application is filed
  • Ability to read, write, and speak English
  • Basic knowledge of U.S. civics and history
  • Good moral character and commitment to the principles espoused in the U.S. Constitution

Anyone unsure about whether they meet the criteria necessary to apply for naturalized citizenship should seek further clarification from a San Diego attorney.

The Application and Interview Process

After filing Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, a person seeking naturalized U.S. citizenship should prepare for the interview USCIS will schedule with them, ideally with assistance from a local attorney. Prior to this interview, some applicants may be required to attend a separate appointment for biometrics testing.

The naturalization interview has multiple components, including a test of English reading and writing capacity, a test on basic U.S. history and civics, and an in-person interview with a USCIS representative who may ask follow-up questions about certain portions of the applicant’s submitted Form N-400. An applicant who fails the civics and/or English tests on their first try can be retested a second time 60 to 90 days after their initial interview date.

Based on their application materials and interview results, an applicant may receive an acceptance, rejection, continuance without a final verdict. After attending a naturalization ceremony and taking the Oath of Allegiance to the United States, a person whose application is granted officially becomes a naturalized U.S. citizen.

Learn More by Talking to a San Diego Citizenship Attorney

Applying to become a U.S. citizen can be a stressful and complicated process, but the rights and privileges that come with legal citizenship can be life-changing for many immigrants to the United States. If you want to maximize your chances of a successful citizenship application, it may be in your best interests to seek help from qualified legal counsel.

A seasoned San Diego citizenship lawyer could provide guidance and support throughout every stage of the naturalization process. To schedule a consultation and learn how a compassionate attorney could help you, call today.