Frequently Asked Questions about Obtaining U.S. Citizenship
Deutsch, Killea and Eapen, Immigration Law Firm in Washington, D.C. provides knowledgeable legal guidance to individuals who are seeking to become U.S. citizens. This is an important step that merits serious consideration. We help clients get started by answering key questions regarding immigration, such as:
- Who is eligible to apply for citizenship through the naturalization process?
- How long does the naturalization process take?
- What tests must I pass to become a citizen?
- Does the USCIS make the civics test questions public?
- What is reviewed during the background check?
- Do I need to bring documentation, such as a birth or marriage certificate, to the naturalization interview?
- Once I become an American citizen, can that status be revoked?
- What is birthright citizenship?
If you are at least 18 years old, have been a lawful permanent resident of the United States and have maintained continuous residence here for five years or more, you can seek citizenship through the naturalization process. This timeframe is reduced to three years for the spouses of most U.S. citizens.
The process of becoming a citizen starts with the filing of Form N-400 Application for Naturalization and the materials required to support that application. Over the past several years, the time it takes to review this application and render a decision has increased to an average of approximately 12 months. Should the application be accepted, the remaining steps in the naturalization process will take several more months.
Most applicants for U.S. citizenship must pass tests that judge their ability to read, write and speak English. There is also a civics test that covers American history and government. If the naturalization applicant has a disability that might affect their ability to pass one or more of these tests, it is possible to receive an accommodation.
Yes, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website includes the 100 questions that can be asked on the civics test that takes place during a naturalization interview. In total, 10 questions from the group of 100 are asked, and you must answer at least six correctly to pass. It is an oral examination.
Along with reviews of an aspiring citizen’s personal and financial information, USCIS requires applicants to schedule a biometric service appointment where their fingerprints, photograph and signature will be taken. Any criminal record will also be reviewed.
Do I need to bring documentation, such as a birth or marriage certificate, to the naturalization interview?
Yes. Even though you might have submitted copies of key documents with your citizenship application, you should bring original versions to the naturalization interview. This doesn’t just include birth, adoption and marriage certificates, but also records relating to finances, divorces, arrests and criminal convictions. You should also have your Permanent Resident Card.
Though it is very rare, denaturalization can occur if, for instance, documents or information provided during the citizenship application process turn out to be forged. Likewise, someone who obtains U.S. citizenship through service in our armed forces might lose that status if they are dishonorably discharged.
Though some politicians have questioned birthright citizenship recently, the 14th Amendment to the Constitution still guarantees citizenship to anyone who is born in the United States or one of its territories. Some individuals born outside the United States might also be entitled to birthright citizenship based on the status of their parents and where they resided. If you were born elsewhere, but believe your family background might entitle you to birthright citizenship here, we can review your situation and explain how the law applies.