Why Become a U.S. Citizen?
There are many reasons to become a citizen. Some of the most important are:
- Citizens can vote and hold public office
- Citizens cannot be deported
- Citizens can petition for more family members to come to the United States than can legal permanent residents (like siblings, parents, and married children
- Citizens usually wait less time for their family to come to the United States than legal permanent residents
- Citizens can travel freely outside of the United States for long periods of time
- Citizens can serve as officers in the military and get federal jobs that non-citizens cannot
- Citizens have full access to public benefits
Eligibility and Requirements
To apply for U.S. Citizenship, you must either:
- Have been a lawful permanent resident for at least 4 years, 9 months AND be able to speak, read, and write basic English, or
- Have been a lawful permanent resident for at least 2 years, 9 months AND have been married to a U.S. citizen for at least 3 years AND be able to speak, read, and write basic English
You may be allowed to take the citizenship test in your own language, rather than in English, if you meet the residency requirements above AND either:
- You have a physical, developmental, or mental disability that makes it impossible for you to learn English
- You have been a lawful permanent resident for at least 20 years AND you are at least 50 years old.
- You have been a lawful permanent resident for at least 15 years AND you are at least 55 years old.
Steps to Citizenship
Below are the five basic steps to becoming a U.S. citizen:
- Gather all of the information and materials required to fill out an N-400 citizenship application (see below). Come to a citizenship workshop or an appointment at the World Relief office to complete your application.
- Mail your completed application to USCIS (United States Citizenship & Immigration Service). Within a few weeks, you should receive a receipt from USCIS confirming that they received your application and the required fee.
- After about a month, you will receive a notice from USCIS telling you when and where to have your fingerprints taken. Follow the instructions on the letter to have your fingerprints taken.
- After your fingerprints, you will have to wait for a few months (depending upon how quickly USCIS is processing applications) before you hear about your interview date. In the meantime, prepare for the test. Click on the links for more information on free English and Citizenship classes, and see the USCIS website to download the study questions for the citizenship test in various languages. Once you know your interview date, follow the instructions on the letter and go to the USCIS District Office (in downtown Chicago) on the date indicated for your citizenship interview.
- If you pass your interview, you will receive another notice from USCIS inviting you to a ceremony to take your oath of loyalty to the United States. Follow the instructions on the letter. Once you have taken your oath and received your naturalization certificate, you will be a U.S. citizen!
Documents and information that you need in order to fill out the N-400 Citizenship Application:
- Your legal permanent resident card AND Social Security card AND your driver’s license (or, if you don’t have a license, your state ID)
- Dates and destinations of all trips outside US since you got your legal permanent resident card
- A list of all of your addresses for the past 5 years AND of all of your employers (dates of employment and employer addresses) for the past 5 years
- If you are currently married, your spouse’s name, date of birth, date of marriage, social security number, alien number (if applicable), AND date and place of naturalization (if applicable)
- Your spouse’s naturalization or birth certificate and your marriage certificate if you are applying for citizenship based on having been a resident for 2 years, 9 months and married to a U.S. citizen for at least 3 years
- If you were previously married, the date of the marriage to your ex-spouse AND the date the marriage ended
- If your current spouse was previously married to someone else, the dates of the marriage (beginning and end) to his/her ex-spouse
- If you have children, their names AND their addresses (if not living with you) AND their dates of birth AND their alien numbers (if applicable)
- If you have ever been arrested or ticketed by the police, go to your County Court office and ask for a “certified court disposition.” For any incidents that occurred in DuPage County, you should go to the DuPage County Court located at 505 County Farm Rd. in Wheaton, IL 60187.
- Males: your Selective Service number and registration date – if you don’t know it, call (847) 688-6888 or go to www.sss.gov
- Money order for $680, payable to USCIS (if you are 75 or older, the money order should be for $595).
- Contact us for up to date information regarding fees for our services
To make a citizenship appointment with an Immigration Counselor:
Allison Smith, Program Associate
(630) 264-3171 x2010 | firstname.lastname@example.org