How Long Does It Take to Become a U.S. Citizen and Mistakes to Avoid

Becoming a U.S. citizen is something that many people all over the world dream about, but there is a process that you have to go through. The process of becoming a United States citizen can be lengthy, and there are many things you need to do to avoid running into problems along the way, such as hiring an immigration attorney to assist you. In this article, we will be discussing the step-by-step process of becoming a U.S. citizen and some common mistakes you will want to avoid.

Becoming a U.S. Citizen

The process of becoming a U.S. citizen is not necessarily difficult, but you need to follow the naturalization application steps carefully. Failure to provide the correct documents or follow the instructions the USCIS provides can result in an application delay or denial.

It’s also important to remember that this can be quite a lengthy process, especially if there are many applicants at the time you file. Research shows that the national average processing time has been steadily rising, so the sooner you file your naturalization application form, the sooner you can be approved.

Here is the step-by-step process of naturalization you need to follow, as well as some pitfalls to avoid so that you don’t run into any lengthy delays.

Filing Application

To become a United States citizen, the first thing you need to do is file Form-400 online or by mail. The average processing time for this application is nine months, which also includes every other step of the process to become a U.S. citizen.

When you are filing your application, it is critical that you provide all of the necessary information for it to be processed quickly. If you haven’t provided the necessary information or the USCIS requires more information, this will slow down the process.

The form also needs to have answers that are entirely correct, and your documents need to be in the format and order that the USCIS prefers. It’s also worth mentioning that any documents that are not in English will need to be translated before you send them.

Because there are so many things you need to do when completing your Form-400, it is highly recommended that you hire an immigration attorney to help you with your immigration case.

Attending Biometrics Appointment

The next step of the naturalization process is attending your biometrics appointment. This is not a complicated process, as it only takes about 15 to 20 minutes. However, there is usually a long wait time before you actually get into your appointment.

A biometrics appointment includes providing your fingerprints, photograph, and signature, which will be used for a background check. When you attend your appointment, bring your appointment letter, green card, and a second form of ID. This is also the stage of the citizenship process where the USCIS may request additional information if you didn’t provide the proper documentation or they need to verify your documentation.

Interview and Exam

The next step is attending your interview and exam, where you will be interviewed by a USCIS officer. They will often ask some general questions as well as verify your background and immigration case.

The interview is a stage of this process where people often run into issues that can slow down their citizenship. So examples of this are not bringing the required documentation and evidence, not preparing for the interview questions, and not being familiar with your immigration history. You will want to thoroughly prepare before the interview so that you can answer questions honestly and confidently.

It is also helpful to hire an immigration attorney who can help you understand what the interview includes. They can also help you prepare for the exam, which is usually scheduled on the same day as your interview.

The exam will include an English proficiency test and a civics test. If you do not pass the exam, you will be required to retake it after 60 to 90 days.

Waiting For Approval

Many times, a decision will be made on your application on the same day as your interview and exam. If this isn’t the case, the USCIS has up to 120 days from the date of your interview to make a decision.

Your application could be approved, which would allow you to proceed to the next step of becoming a citizen. Or, your application could be continued, which is when it is put on hold because you do not pass your citizenship exam or the USCIS needs more information before approval. In this instance, the USCIS will clarify what you need to provide so that they can finish assessing your application.

If your application is denied, you can file an appeal to have a hearing with a USCIS officer within 30 days of receiving your denial letter. The USCIS will have 180 days to schedule a hearing where you could argue your case as to why you think you should be approved.

What Comes Next

If your application is approved on the same day as your interview and exam, you will most likely be required to attend your Oath of Allegiance ceremony. If this does not happen on the same day, it will be scheduled around 2 to 6 weeks after your interview and exam.

The USCIS will provide a date, time, and location for your ceremony, and if you cannot attend, you will have to mail a request for a new date with an explanation of why you can’t attend. Failure to attend your naturalization ceremony more than once often leads to an application denial.

After you have attended your Oath of Allegiance ceremony, you should immediately take the steps to register to vote, apply for a U.S. passport, and update your Social Security record.

Hire an Immigration Attorney Today

Are you ready to start the process of becoming a legal U.S. citizen? Contact us today at U.S. Immigration Law Counsel® by filling out our online form or contacting us directly by calling 800-666-4996. Our immigration lawyers will deal with the government, so you don’t have to!