How to Apply for US Citizenship

You are eligible to apply for US citizenship after you have met the residency requirements. Basically, after you receive your green card you need to be a continuous resident of the United States for three to five years (three if married and you meet other conditions, five if you do not meet those conditions — learn more about residency requirements for green cards by marriage here). Once you are eligible to apply as a US citizen, you need only to know how to proceed, and prepare.

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Steps to Applying for US Citizenship

There are only a few basic steps and forms that you need to complete to apply for naturalization in the US. There are other things that you can do to prepare and ensure a successful application in the meantime, but first, the steps:

  • File your application — you need to file form N-400, the Application for Naturalization.
  • Collect Documents — you will be required to submit documentation with your application. You'll be given a full list and instructions. Only include copies of documents with your actual application. The USCIS will ask you to bring the originals with you.
  • Submit photographs — when you apply for US citizenship, you will be required to submit two recent photographs with your application. You can get these while you complete your application. They need to be passport-sized (2"x2") and can be in color or black and white, but must have a white or light background. Many local photographers can take these photos for you (go to any that does passport photos).
  • Submit your application — send the completed packet and all forms, along with the fee of $390 to the Service Center that handles applications for your state or location.
  • Wait for further instructions — you will then need to go to get fingerprinted by the CIS (wait for notice from the CIS) and will need to complete the interview and testing process. The CIS will send you instructions, appointment times and locations for each procedure.

Preparing for Citizenship

Following completion of the application, you will be given a date and time for your interview and US citizenship test. In the meantime, take time to study and prepare. You will need to have a firm understanding of US English and US civics. There are many resources to help you prepare successfully, many of which can be found on this website.

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