Gaining citizenship, also known as naturalization, in the United States is a significant milestone for immigrants who wish to fully participate in American society and enjoy the rights and privileges of citizenship. 

This guide provides an overview of the various ways to become a U.S. citizen, including the general application process, costs involved, timing considerations, and next steps.

What are the options for Citizenship (naturalization)?

There are several pathways to citizenship in the United States, depending on the individual’s circumstances and current immigration situation. To be eligible for naturalization, individuals must meet certain requirements, including:

  • Be at least 18 years old.
  • Be a lawful permanent resident (green card holder) for a certain period of time (usually 3-5 years).
  • Have continuous residence and physical presence in the United States.
  • Demonstrate good moral character and an understanding of U.S. civics and history.
  • Be able to speak, read, and write basic English.

Immigrants may also be eligible under various military service criteria.


The most common groups of applicants for U.S. naturalization are: 

  • Green card holders (general)
    • Can apply after 5 years
  • Green card holders (with U.S. citizen spouse)
    • Can apply after 3 years
  • Green card holder with 1+ year peacetime military service
    • Can apply while on active duty or within 6 months after
  • Green card holder with less than 1 year peacetime military service
    • Can apply after 5 years
  • Anyone with wartime military service (with or without green card)
    • Can apply anytime

What is the application process for U.S. citizenship?

The application process for naturalization typically involves the following steps:

Complete Form N-400
The applicant must complete and submit Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), along with supporting documentation and the required fee.

Biometrics Appointment
USCIS will schedule a biometrics appointment for the applicant to provide fingerprints, photographs, and other biographical information.

Interview and Civics Test: The applicant will attend an interview with USCIS, where they will be tested on their English language skills and knowledge of U.S. civics and history.

Oath of Allegiance: If approved, the applicant will attend a naturalization ceremony where they will take the Oath of Allegiance, officially becoming a U.S. citizen.


What are the costs involved?

The costs involved in the naturalization process may include:

  • Application fee for Form N-400.
  • Biometrics fee for the biometrics appointment.
  • Legal fees including the hiring of an immigration attorney for assistance with the application process.


How long does it take to get U.S. Citizenship?

The timing of the naturalization process can vary depending on factors such as USCIS processing times, the applicant’s individual circumstances, and any potential delays or requests for additional evidence. In general, the process may take several months to a year or longer to complete.


What are the next steps once I have received my visa or green card?

After becoming a U.S. citizen through naturalization, individuals can enjoy the rights and privileges of citizenship, including the ability to vote, travel with a U.S. passport, and petition for family members to immigrate to the United States. They may also consider applying for a U.S. passport and updating their legal documents to reflect their new citizenship status.

It’s important to note that the naturalization process can be complex, and applicants may benefit from seeking guidance from an experienced immigration attorney to ensure eligibility, navigate the application process, and address any challenges or concerns that may arise. With the right guidance and support, individuals can successfully achieve their goal of becoming a U.S. citizen and fully participate in American society.

You can check out more information on our citizenship/naturalization services here.

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