Becoming a United States citizen is a dream for many Legal Permanent Residents (LPRs) in the United States. The N-400 application is your gateway to making that dream a reality. This crucial document, submitted to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), holds the key to obtaining U.S. citizenship.
However, navigating this process can be overwhelming, and it’s highly recommended that you consult with an immigration attorney to ensure a smooth journey.
In this article, we will demystify the N-400 application process and provide valuable insights for LPRs looking to become proud U.S. citizens.
To qualify for naturalization through the N-400, you must meet certain eligibility requirements, including:
Residency Requirement: You must have been an LPR for either three or five years, depending on your circumstances. If you’ve been married to a U.S. citizen and living together, three years may suffice. For others, it’s five years.
Physical Presence: During that 3- or 5-year period, you must have spent a minimum amount of time physically present in the United States: 18 months for the three-year path and 30 months for the five-year path.
Additional Requirements: You must be at least 18 years old, not have left the U.S. for more than six months in a single trip during the waiting period, reside in the state where you’ll submit your N-400, demonstrate good moral character, pass the U.S. civics and English test, and meet other requirements related to allegiance to the U.S. and military service.
Exemptions from the English Test
One common concern for applicants is the English test. However, certain individuals may be exempt from this requirement, including those who:
Are at least 50 years old and have been permanent residents for 20 years.
Are at least 55 years old and have been permanent residents for 15 years.
Are at least 65 years old and have been permanent residents for 20 years (and take a shorter version of the civics test).
Have a medical disability lasting or expected to last at least 12 months, exempting them from both the English and civics exams.
Benefits of U.S. Citizenship
Becoming a U.S. citizen comes with a wealth of benefits, including:
Family Reunification: As a citizen, you can help your relatives immigrate to the U.S. or resolve their immigration status.
Extended Stay: Unlike LPRs, citizens can stay outside the U.S. for as long as they wish.
U.S. Passport: Enjoy the privileges of a U.S. passport and the protections it provides through embassies and consulates abroad.
Voting Rights: Exercise your right to vote and have a say in the country’s future.
Job Opportunities: Access certain government positions at the state and federal level that are reserved for U.S. citizens.
Federal Scholarships: Qualify for federal student scholarships available exclusively to U.S. citizens.
In conclusion, the road to U.S. citizenship through the N-400 application may seem complex, but it’s a journey worth undertaking. To maximize your chances of success and reap the numerous benefits of citizenship, consult with an experienced immigration attorney who can guide you through the process. Your American dream is closer than you think!