Overview of the Naturalization Process –  becoming a U.S. Citizen

Attorney Caroly Pedersen

Millions of permanent US residents (Green Card holders) have been scrambling to file for Naturalization over the past year, especially following the 2016 presidential elections.

As a result, processing times have increased, taking nearly a year in some jurisdictions. So, permanent residents whose goal is to become US Citizens are well advised to avoid delays, by filing for Naturalization sooner, rather than later.

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Here’s a brief overview of the process to Naturalize and the common steps to take once you become a US Citizen:

  1. Complete and file your Naturalization application (called form N-400) using Express or Priority Mail;
  1. Get a receipt from the USCIS within 10 days and go online and sign up for case updateson the USCIS website, using the case number on your receipt;
  1. Receive your Biometrics appointment notice within 30 days from the USICS for you to have your fingerprints taken at the local USCIS office;

Receive your Naturalization Interview notice in about 3 months, attend your interview, pass the test and get approved;

  1. Receive your Naturalization Ceremony notice. Once your application for Naturalization is approved, the USCIS will schedule your Naturalization Ceremony within 30 days.
  1. Attend your Naturalization Ceremony, surrender your Green Card, take your Oath of Allegiance to complete the process of becoming a US citizen and receive your Naturalization Certificate the same day.
  1. Apply for your US Passport. Once you receive your Certificate of Naturalization, you can immediately apply for a US passport. You will receive an application for a US passport at your naturalization ceremony, called the “US Citizenship Welcome Packet” or you can go online to the US Passport office
  1. Register to Vote! Once you are a US Citizen, it is your right and privilege to vote. You can register to vote at certain locations in your community, which may include post offices, motor vehicle offices, county boards of election, and offices of your state Secretary of State. You can read more about registering to vote by reading the government publication: “Voter’s Guide to Federal Elections“.
  1. Update your Social Security record. After you become a U.S. Citizen, you will need to notify the Social Security Administration (SSA) to update your Social Security record. You can find your local Social Security office by calling1-800-772-1213 or by visiting: www.socialsecurity.gov.

You can go to your local SSA office about ten days after your ceremony to give time for the SSA to be able to access your new status in the USCIS records. Be sure to take your Certificate of Naturalization or U.S. passport with you. Good luck!

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