Applying for citizenship in the United States can feel both exciting and overwhelming, however if you see the process as a set of steps to follow it can become more manageable.

As stated by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), “citizenship is a unique bond that unites people around civic ideas and a belief in the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.

There are two main ways to obtain citizenship:

  1. Naturalization: The process by which U.S. citizenship is granted to a lawful permanent resident after meeting the requirements established by Congress in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).
  2. Acquisition: Through U.S. citizenship parents before the age of 18.

Depending on your situation there may be specific requirements that you must fulfill, whether you are a Lawful Permanent Resident of 5 years, married to a U.S. citizen, serving in the U.S. Military o being a child of a U.S. citizen.

According to the USCIS, there are ten steps for the Naturalization process:

  • Step 1. Determine if you are already a U.S. citizen
  • Step 2. Determine if you are eligible to become a U.S. citizen
  • Step 3. Prepare Form N-400, Application for Naturalization
  • Step 4. Submit Form N-400 and pay corresponding fees
  • Step 5. Got to biometrics appointment, if applicable
  • Step 6. Complete interview
  • Step 7. Receive decision from USCIS on Form N-400
  • Step 8. Receive notice to take Oath of Allegiance
  • Step 9. Take Oath of Allegiance to the United States
  • Step 10. Understanding U.S. citizenship

Determine if you are already a U.S. Citizen

Generally people born in the United Stated are U.S. citizens or if they were abroad to U.S. citizens. Also, you may be a U.S. citizen if you were under 18 and a lawful permanent resident when one or both of your parents naturalized or after adoption by U.S. citizen parents.

Determine if you are eligible to become a U.S. citizen

Some of the general eligibility requirements are:

  • Must be age 18 or older,
  • Must be a lawful permanent resident (LPR) for five years
  • Must have continuous residence in the United States as LPR for five years
  • Must be physically present in the United Stated for 30 months, of those five years, before filing the application.
  • Must have lives within the state or USCIS district with jurisdiction over the applicant’s place of residence for at least 3 months
  • Must demonstrate good moral character for five years and during the period leading to the administration of the Oath of Allegiance
  • Must have attachment to the principles of the U.S. Constitution and be well disposed to the good order and happiness of the United States
  • Must be able to read, write, speak English and have knowledge of U.S. history and government (civics)

Prepare form N-400, Application for Naturalization

When you meet all requirements to become a U.S. citizen, complete Form N-400 to apply for naturalization. You can create an account to keep track of your process.

Submit Form N-400 and pay fees

Submit application, documents, and fees to USCIS.

Go to biometrics appointment, if applicable

Application Support Center (ASC) collects biometrics: fingerprints, photographs and signatures. The biometrics are required for the purpose of conducting Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) criminal background checks.

Complete the Interview

USCIS will schedule an interview. It is very important not to miss your interview. At the interview a USCIS officer will ask you questions about your Form N-400. Officers can ask about biographical information, marital history and military service; about admission and length of time as LPR, absences from the U.S. after becoming LPR, places of residence and employment history. You will also take the English and civics test, unless exempt.

Applicants may be represented by attorneys and have access to interpreters that are selected by the applicant or by USCIS when permitted. 

Receive decision from USCIS on Form N-400

Application can be continued because USCIS officer determines you need to provide additional documents or evidence. Or if you fail English or civics test, or both, USCIS will schedule another interview within 60 to 90 days of your first interview. USCIS will deny your Form N-400 if you fail the tests a second time.

GRANTED: USCIS may approve your Form N-400 is the evidence on record established your eligibility for naturalization, and schedule you for a ceremony for the administration of the Oath of Allegiance.

DENIED: USCIS will deny your Form N-400 if the evidence on record established you are not eligible for naturalization. The denial should include a clear and concise statement of the facts of why it was denied. A citation of the specific eligibility requirements the applicant failed to demonstrate. Information on how the applicant may request a hearing on the denial.

Receive notice to take Oath of Allegiance

USCIS will notify you with the date, time and location of the scheduled oath ceremony.

Take Oath of Allegiance to the United States

The Oath is administered by USCIS at an administrative ceremony or by a judge in a judicial ceremony. You receive your Certificate of Naturalization after taking the Oath of Allegiance.

Understanding U.S. citizenship

Citizenship is the common thread that connects all Americans. There are some rights and responsibilities that all citizens should exercise, honor and respect.


  • Freedom to express yourself
  • Freedom to worship as you wish
  • Right to a prompt, fair trial by jury
  • Right to vote in elections for public officials
  • Right to apply for federal employment requiring U.S. citizenship
  • Right to run for elected office


  • Support and defend the U.S. Constitution
  • Stay informed of the issues affecting your community
  • Participate in democratic process
  • Respect and obey federal, state, and local laws
  • Respect the rights, beliefs and opinions of others
  • Participate in your local community
  • Pay income and other taxes honestly, and on time, to federal, state, and local authorities
  • Serve on a jury when called upon
  • Serve the country as needed

Generally speaking these are the steps you take to apply for citizenship in the United States by the process of Naturalization. Being represented by an experienced attorney can save you time and present errors from happening during this process.