How Long Does Naturalization Take?
Some common green card scenarios and their corresponding wait time requirements include:
If you have a marriage-based green card, you will need to wait 3 years after receiving your green card.
If you have an individual green card, you will need to wait 5 years after receiving your green card. You will
need to live in the country for at least 2.5 years.
The Application Process
Once you have undergone the mandatory waiting period and meet all other
eligibility requirements, it is time to file the formal application for
naturalization with USCIS. This application is called Form N-400, the
Application for Naturalization. You will also need to pay the associated
filing fees when submitting your application.
Some of the documents you will need to correctly submit Form N-400 include:
A copy of your green card. You will need copies of both the front and back of, your “Permanent
Identification pictures. Two “passport-style” photos
Application filing fee payment. Fee waivers are potentially available to those experiencing financial
hardship or other extenuating circumstances
Evidence of current marital status. This can include certificates confirming marriage, death, divorce, or
If you are applying as a result of serving in the military, you will also
have to provide proof of your qualifying service. If you are seeking exemptions
from the naturalization exam (discussed more below), you will also have
to submit proof of a qualifying medical disability.
It is critical that Form N-400 be submitted accurately and with all of
the necessary documents.
Any errors, mistakes, or omissions can trigger a rejection from USCIS and
force you to start the entire naturalization process over from the beginning. This means you will not only have to fill out a new application, you may
also have to repay filing fees and endure lengthy processing times. Our
Manhattan citizenship attorney can help you and work to ensure Form N-400
is filled out and submitted accurately.
In addition to filing the application, you will also be required to have
your fingerprints taken after you are scheduled by USCIS at a biometrics office.
The Naturalization Exam
You will have to successfully complete a two-part naturalization test at
the time of your USCIS interview. One component assesses English language
proficiency, while the other is a straightforward civics exam. Both portions
The English test will require you to handwrite any one of three sentences
spoken by the USCIS officer. You will also have to speak aloud one of
three written sentences provided to you.
As of December 1,2020, the civics test will consist of your being given
a series of questions evaluating your understanding of how the United
States government works and the country’s history. These questions
are all straightforward and come from a pool of 128questions
published online, so it is easy to prepare for the exam in advance. You only have to answer
12 questions correctly to pass.
If you do not pass either portion on the first try, you can schedule an
additional attempt at a later date. You may also be able to obtain an
exemption for one or both portions of the test based on your age, length
of time present in the United States, and/or a qualifying medical disability.
Should the USCIS agent still have concerns about your application, they
may schedule a second interview or request additional documentation. Otherwise,
your application will be approved immediately or in the following weeks.
The USCIS Interview
Once USCIS has processed your application and encountered no disqualifying
factors, the agency will schedule an interview at your local field office.
The agents will ask you questions about information on your application.
You will in most circumstances be permitted to bring a legal representative
to the interview if you properly requested one with your application.
You will also be required to bring a trove of documentation to validate
information included on your application. Some of this may feel redundant,
but it is critical you bring as much supporting evidence as possible.
Some of the documents you should plan to bring to your USCIS interview include:
- Your physical green card
- Your state ID card or driver’s license
- Any travel records or documents, including passports current and expired
- Documents relating to any marital status, including divorces
- Documentation supporting any name changes
- Proof of spouse’s U.S. citizenship for past 3 years (if you are applying
through a marriage-based green card)
- Evidence supporting an authentic marriage (if you are applying through
a marriage-based green card)
- Proof of federal and state tax compliance, including your last several
federal tax returns
- Proof you maintained sufficient physical presence in the United States
throughout the mandatory waiting period
- Proof of Selective Service Registration, if relevant
- Records of any encounters with law enforcement or criminal offenses
As we mentioned above, you should be prepared to discuss any criminal record
you may have, even if the offenses seem insignificant. You should bring
all documentation involving each case, including evidence establishing
the final outcome, the completion of any served time or required probation,
and records of any plea bargains or expunged infractions.
When in doubt, bring more evidence than you think might be necessary. Not having the proper documentation can delay the naturalization process
or even result in your application’s rejection. Our Manhattan citizenship
lawyer can help assess what documents you need and represent you during
the in-person interview.
The Oath of Allegiance
Once your naturalization has been approved, the final step is to participate
in an Oath of Allegiance ceremony. This requires no additional preparation
and is mostly symbolic in nature. USCIS will reach out with a scheduled
date, location, and time.
You will only have to report to the ceremony site with the necessary documents
(including your green card, your application letter, government-issued
ID, and passport) and recite the oath before a USCIS officer. You do not
have to memorize the oath, as its text will be provided to you
After the ceremony is completed, you will officially become a United States
citizen. All of the associated benefits will become immediately available to you.
As you can see, becoming a U.S. citizen through naturalization is not a
simple endeavor, and it can be easy to forget essential documents or make
avoidable mistakes. Our Manhattan citizenship lawyer at John Nicelli &
Associates comes from a family of immigrants himself and understands the
symbolic and practical importance of naturalization. Our firm’s
mission is to give every client’s case the honesty, integrity, and
respect it deserves.
Our team will do everything in our power to fight for you, but we will
also be straightforward in acknowledging any challenges or obstacles you
might face. We are also sympathetic to the costs inherent to the naturalization
process, which is why we are proud to offer convenient payment plans for
Get the assistance you need to become a citizen through naturalization.
Contact us online or dial
(212) 227-8020 to learn more about how we can help.