How Long Does It Take To Gain US Citizenship?

Daren Brown
By Daren Brown | March 20, 2019

immigration-documentsAttaining citizenship in the U.S. is highly sought after by foreign nationals because of the opportunities it presents. As a citizen, you’re entitled to carry a U.S. passport and vote in elections, and you have access to additional benefits. However, gaining American citizenship requires you to successfully complete a series of steps. The process can take some time. Just how long depends upon certain factors.

The U.S. Citizenship Process

In order to understand how long it takes to become a citizen, you should first know the steps required of candidates.

  1. Eligibility: You must already be a lawful permanent resident in order to be eligible for citizenship through naturalization (if you qualify for derivative citizenship through your parents or grandparents, that is a different process than discussed by this article). Other eligibility factors involved time of residence in the U.S., moral character, English-speaking abilities and knowledge of U.S. civics.

  2. Filing Paperwork: To initiate the process of naturalization, you must file Form N-400 with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). The form requires extensive information from you, a copy of your green card and a filing fee. Other documentation may also be required depending on your legal circumstances.

  3. Fingerprinting: Your fingerprints are taken in order to run a background check on any criminal activity or other matters relevant to moral character.

  4. Citizenship Interview: During this meeting, a USCIS agent will review your Form N-400 and go over the answers you provided. Additionally, you may be required to answer civics questions and pass an English language test.

  5. Oath Ceremony: If your application is approved, you must attend a ceremony during which you swear allegiance to the U.S. Here, you’ll receive your Certificate of Naturalization.

What Factors Affect Application Processing?

There is no one true answer as to how long it takes to gain citizenship, as many factors impact the process. It’s important to be patient and expect a wait as your case proceeds before busy USCIS agents.

  • Location: If you live in an area with a large immigrant population, the process can take longer. Agents do their best to keep up with the demand of applications, which is much higher in these locations.

  • The Interview: Your application may be delayed if information provided on your Form N-400 does not coincide with the details you provide during your interview, or if you failed to provide all required documentation.

  • Representation: Retaining an attorney is another factor that may impact the U.S. citizenship process. The paperwork and procedures are complex, and proceeding on your own can lead to a higher risk of mistakes. When errors occur at any stage in the process, delays of days, weeks or even years are possible.

Because of the problems that can arise, it’s wise to consult with and hire an experienced attorney to represent your interests before the USCIS. A lawyer with expertise in immigration matters has knowledge of relevant laws and can eliminate the possibility of procedural mistakes. Please contact the offices of Stockard, Johnston, Brown & Netardus, P.C. in Amarillo to set up a consultation where we can answer questions and discuss the citizenship process in more detail.

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Topics: Immigration