U.S. Law Center

Issues of concern for California immigrants seeking naturalization

It can be frustrating to set a particular goal in life and then realize, after the fact, that you don't have the resources or ability to accomplish it. For instance, if you want to join the military but you have a past injury or current health condition that makes you ineligible to do so, you might feel disappointed or upset that your ultimate plan does not seem doable at this time.

If you happen to be among the thousands of California residents who emigrated to the United States from other countries of origin, one of your goals might be to become a naturalized citizen of the U.S. Perhaps, you have friends or family members who have already navigated the process. As you set out to bring your own hopes and dreams to fruition, it's essential to build a strong support network.

Know what steps to take before you take any

When someone of foreign national status takes steps toward becoming a U.S. citizen, there is typically a lot of personal effort involved. You can't simply tell an immigration official that you want to be a citizen, sign a paper and it happens. In fact, one of the first things you must do is find out if you're eligible to become a citizen. The following list includes additional facts and information regarding the naturalization process:

  • To be eligible for citizenship, you must satisfy certain requirements first, such as being married to a U.S. citizen for at least three years, serving in the U.S. military or possessing a green card for five or more years.
  • There are many forms to fill out during the application process. You must be sure you complete the correct ones and that the information you provide is true and relevant.
  • You'll also have to provide personal photographs of yourself that meet specifications of size and type.
  • The U.S. government will require you to have your fingerprints taken before you can complete the process to become a naturalized citizen.
  • A notice will arrive to tell you when and where to appear for an immigration interview.
  • You will have to take a test.

Making a good impression during your interview is a key factor toward citizenship, especially if you have based your application on marriage to a U.S. citizen. If officials suspect that your marriage is not legitimate, you can wind up facing serious legal problems.

What is on the test?

To become a U.S. citizen, you must show mastery of certain skills and concepts. For instance, a portion of the test you take will require you to demonstrate that you can read, write and understand English. You'll also have to prove that you know basic facts regarding how the U.S. government functions. The test typically includes questions about key events in U.S. history as well.

Who can help?

One day, you may attend a ceremony and take an oath for the final steps in the process of naturalized citizenship. Perhaps you and your loved ones will celebrate that day with a feast or party. There are numerous issues that can impede your ability to become a U.S. citizen, however, which is why it's a good idea to know where to seek support along the way.

English tutors, friends or relatives who are U.S. citizens, employers and legal advocates who are well-versed in U.S. immigration law are great assets to have on hand as you work toward accomplishing your life goals.

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