How to Become a U.S. Citizen Permanently

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For most people, U.S. citizenship represents the culmination of years of hard work and dedication to their new home country. Becoming a citizen involves taking an oath to defend the U.S., along with accepting the responsibilities that come with being a member of this society, including paying taxes and serving on juries, among other things. But how do you become a U.S. citizen permanently? And what are the different methods available? Read on to find out how to navigate the process to become a permanent U.S. citizen today!

Get a green card

To get your green card, you will need to meet a few requirements, and then submit an application to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). One of the requirements is that you must maintain legal status during this period. And if you are outside of the United States when you apply for permanent residence, USCIS will notify your nearest U.S. embassy or consulate that they have an immigrant applying for lawful permanent residence (which is shortened as green card).

Understand the difference between naturalization and other citizenship statuses

The two paths to citizenship that apply most often are naturalization and obtaining dual citizenship. Naturalization refers to the process of becoming a citizen through legal residency and meeting other requirements, such as providing proof of ability to speak, read, write and understand English; an understanding of U.S. history and government; etc. Dual citizenship is defined as two citizenships simultaneously – an individual may be a citizen of both the United States and another country (including ones they were born in).

Take the test at your local USCIS office

First you’ll need to take the N-400, Application for Naturalization at your local USCIS office. It’s important that you read and answer every question carefully on the form or your application may be delayed or denied. If you are granted U.S. citizenship, congratulations! You will now have all of the rights and privileges of an American citizen, including voting in elections and serving on a jury.

Study for the test

Since some time off work to study for the test can be difficult, you may want to find someone who already has passed the citizenship exam and ask them to help you prepare. In addition, you can use an online prep course like Civics Compass as supplementary material. These are typically less expensive than classes, are just as informative, and can be studied at your own pace in the convenience of your home or workplace.

Prepare your paperwork

In order to become a U.S. citizen permanently, you’ll need to meet the following requirements: live in the country for five years (three years if married to an American), take and pass the English and civics test, be at least 18 or older, understand English (or not have an accent that hinders communication), show good moral character, swear allegiance to the United States, and pass a background check for security purposes.

Pass your citizenship test!

What happens if I fail the citizenship test? After you take the exam, it takes about 18-24 months before USCIS sends you your results. You will either receive an Approved or Denied letter in the mail with your results on it. If you are approved, congrats! You are now officially an American citizen! You’ll be sworn in at a naturalization ceremony and receive your certificate of citizenship shortly after that date.

Step 1: Get Fingerprinted

When you need to get fingerprinted, visit the police department with your completed USCIS I-90 form, proof of identity and citizenship, valid photo ID, and fill out an FD-258 fingerprint card. Let the clerk know if you have any tattoos that may make it difficult for them to record accurate fingerprints. They will ask you questions about your immigration history as well as any relatives who might be ineligible for citizenship because of their criminal records or false claim of U.s.

Step 2: Find an Immigration Lawyer

Since the immigration laws are complicated, we recommend finding an immigration lawyer with experience and expertise to help you apply for your citizenship.

These five steps can help you get started on the path to becoming a US citizen permanently: 1) Get qualified to become a US citizen; 2) Find an immigration lawyer; 3) Apply for naturalization (go through the N-400 process); 4) Wait 18 months after submitting all of your paperwork and then attend your interview with USCIS; 5) Get sworn in as a new US citizen!

Step 3: Fill Out USCIS Form N-400

Form N-400 is the form on which you will answer questions about your eligibility for citizenship and swear that you are telling the truth. The forms should be filled out as completely and honestly as possible and signed with an original signature in blue ink. Make sure to also provide all relevant supporting documentation listed on the form with copies of all other pages of the form or photocopies of these documents if originals are not available. You must also include photos taken within 30 days of filling out this form that meet the following requirements


To become a U.S. citizen permanently, you must be: 1) A lawful permanent resident of the United States, 2) 18 years or older, 3) A person of good moral character and allegiance to the United States, 4) Able to read, write and speak English (or prove knowledge of this language), 5) Understands American history and government and 6) Takes an oath of allegiance to the United States

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