There is no guarantee that you can stay in the United States until you become a citizen. People with visas will eventually have to leave when their visas expire. Even permanent residents with green cards are still subject to removal proceedings or deportation in certain circumstances.
Citizenship makes your right to remain in the United States secure. It also opens up other opportunities, like the right to vote or to run for political office. If you are interested in becoming a naturalized citizen, there are three important steps that you will need to take.
Determine if you are eligible
Not everyone can apply for naturalization. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) only approves applications in specific circumstances. You can potentially qualify for naturalization in one of four ways. Your family relationships can help you qualify if your spouse or one of your parents is a citizen of the United States. Serving in the United States military can also help you qualify for naturalization. Finally, if you have remained in the United States for at least five years as a lawful permanent resident, you can apply for naturalization.
Submit documentation to the USCIS
Once you know that you are eligible for naturalization, you will have to submit paperwork to the USCIS. You will also have to provide your biometric information, typically your fingerprints.
The USCIS will also conduct a thorough background check as part of the naturalization process to determine if there are any criminal matters that would affect your eligibility.
Attend a naturalization interview
If you meet the necessary criteria and submit the right documentation, the USCIS will schedule a naturalization interview with you. During that interview, they will clarify any questions they have about your application.
They will also administer an English language test and a Civics test. The English test involves speaking, listening, reading and writing. The Civics test is oral and requires that you answer questions about the government and United States history. The USCIS provides both vocabulary study materials and a comprehensive list of all of the possible Civics questions for naturalization applicants to study.
If you successfully complete all three of these steps, then you will become a naturalized citizen. Getting the right support during the naturalization process will increase your chances of success.