Can I become a U.S. Citizen?

Question: I would like to become a U.S. Citizen. What can I do and what are the basic requirements?

Answer: These are the basic requirements: Be 18 or older; Be a green card holder for at least 5 years immediately preceding the date of filing the Form N-400, Application for Naturalization; Have lived within the state, or USCIS district with jurisdiction over the applicant’s place of residence, for at least 3 months prior to the date of filing the application; Have continuous residence in the United States as a green card holder for at least 5 years immediately preceding the date of the filing the application; Be physically present in the United States for at least 30 months out of the 5 years immediately preceding the date of filing the application; Reside continuously within the United States from the date of application for naturalization up to the time of naturalization; Be able to read, write, and speak English and have knowledge and an understanding of U.S. history and government (civics); and be a person of good moral character, attached to the principles of the Constitution of the United States, and well disposed to the good order and happiness of the United States during all relevant periods under the law.

Question: When does my time as a Permanent Resident begin?

Answer: Your time as a Permanent Resident begins on the date you were granted permanent
resident status. This date is on your Permanent Resident Card (formerly known as an Alien
Registration Card or “Green Card”). The sample cards on this page show where you can find
important information such as the date your Permanent Residence began.

Question: If I have been convicted of a crime but my record has been
expunged, do I need to write that on my application or tell a
USCIS officer?

Answer: Yes. You should always be honest with USCIS about all:
Arrests (even if you were not charged or convicted);
Convictions (even if your record was cleared or expunged); Crimes you have committed for which you were not arrested or convicted; and any countervailing evidence, or evidence in your favor concerning the
circumstances of your arrests, and/or convictions or offenses that you would like
USCIS to consider.

Even if you have committed a minor crime, USCIS may deny your application if you
do not tell the USCIS officer about the incident. Note that unless a traffic incident was
alcohol or drug related, you do not need to submit documentation for traffic fines and
incidents that did not involve an actual arrest if the only penalty was a fine less than
$500 and/or points on your driver’s license.

However, if you have any of the above, you should definitely get the help of an immigration attorney to best protect you in this situation.

Question: Will USCIS help me, or make accommodations for me, if I have a
disability?

Answer: USCIS will make every effort to make reasonable accommodations for applicants with
disabilities who need modifications to the naturalization process in order to demonstrate
their eligibility. For example, if you use a wheelchair, we will make sure you can be
fingerprinted, interviewed, and sworn in at a location that is wheelchair accessible. If
you are hearing impaired, the officer conducting your interview will speak loudly and
slowly, or we will work with you to arrange for an American sign language interpreter.
If you require an American sign language interpreter at the oath ceremony, please
indicate that in your Form N-400 in the section where you are asked if you need
accommodation for a disability. If you use a service animal such as a guide dog, your
animal may come with you to your interview and oath ceremony.

Question: How long will it take to become naturalized?

Answer: The time it takes to be naturalized varies by location. USCIS is continuing to
modernize and improve the naturalization process and would like to decrease the
time it takes to an average of 6 months after the Form N-400 is filed.

Question: What can I do if USCIS denies my application?

Answer: If you think that USCIS was wrong to deny your naturalization application, you may
request a hearing with an immigration officer. Your denial letter will explain how to
request a hearing and will include the form you need. The form for filing an appeal is
the “Request for Hearing on a Decision in Naturalization Proceedings under Section
336 of the INA” (Form N-336). You must file the form, including the correct fee, to
USCIS within 30 days after you receive a denial letter.
If, after an appeal hearing with USCIS, you still believe you have been wrongly denied
naturalization, you may file a petition for a new review of your application in U.S.
District Court.

Question: Can I reapply for naturalization if USCIS denies my application?

Answer: In many cases, you may reapply. If you reapply, you will need to complete and resubmit
a new Form N-400 and pay the fee again. You will also need to have your fingerprints
and photographs taken again. If your application is denied, the denial letter should
indicate the date you may reapply for citizenship.
If you are denied because you failed the English or civics test, you may reapply for
naturalization as soon as you want. You should reapply whenever you believe you have
learned enough English or civics to pass both tests.

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