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Becoming a naturalized citizen of the United States is an important step to creating a better life for you and your family, and will enable you to more fully participate in your community, and the world. Being a citizen means that it is easier to re-enter the United States after traveling outside of the country. Citizens can take longer trips outside of the United States without having their status affected.
Citizens of the United States have the ability to petition family members to enter the United States, and Green-Card-holding children of citizens have the option to become U.S. Citizens themselves. There are also numerous rights and access to resources citizens of the United States enjoy, such as the ability to vote, to run for California State and some federal public offices, to obtain federal jobs, grants, and other governmental benefits, and to obtain and travel with a U.S. Passport.
The savings of over $540 in Green Card renewal fees make becoming a citizen of the United States an important financial decision as well.
How to Apply for Citizenship
Becoming a Naturalized United States Citizen is an important step to creating a better life for you and your family. As a U.S. citizen you are better able to participate in the civic process, petition family members to join you in the United States, obtain a U.S. passport, and more! Embarking on the path to citizenship opens a variety of doors to you and your family to have additional access to resources and opportunities that only United States Citizens can enjoy.
BASIC ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS
- Be at least 18 years old;
- Be a person of good moral character;
- Have resided at least 5 years as a Lawful Permanent Resident, or 3 years if married to a U.S. citizen;
- Have 5 years living in, and physically present in, the United States without major absences out of the country;
- Be able to read, write, and speak basic English (Language exceptions below);
- Have a basic understanding of U.S. history and civics;
- Have 3 months living in the jurisdiction of where you will apply;
- And be willing to take an oath of loyalty to the United States.
For more information about the requirements, click here.
PLEASE NOTE: The naturalization process can take at least 6 months, sometimes longer. If you are planning on becoming a citizen and registering to vote in time for the 2020 elections, consider coming to one of our upcoming events. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services can provide an estimate of how long it will take to become a citizen depending on where you live.
The naturalization process can be costly. However, you might qualify to have the fees completely waived if you meet one of the following circumstances:
- You or qualified members of your household are currently receiving a means-tested benefit. A means-tested benefit is one for which the individual’s income/resources determine eligibility and/or the benefit amount, such as Supplemental Security Income, or Medi-Cal, among others.
NOTE: This option is currently under threat and may be subject to change in the coming months.
- Your household income is at or below the 150% Federal Poverty Guidelines at the time you file your application. Check the current poverty guidelines for this year at: Form I-912P, HHS Poverty Guidelines for Fee Waiver Requests.
- You are experiencing a financial hardship that prevents you from paying the filing fee, including unexpected medical bills or emergencies such as bankruptcy.
For more information on Fee Waivers, click here.
Reduced Fee Waivers are available if you meet the following requirement:
- Your household income is between the 150% and 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines at the time you file. Check the current poverty guidelines for this year at HHS Poverty Guidelines for Fee Waiver Requests.
For more information about fees, click here.
NOTE: Applying for a fee waiver under the current administration's new policy changes, may result in potential hardships in family petitions.
NOTE: You are still required to take the Civics test, even if you are exempt from the English language requirement.
For more information on language exceptions, click here.
MEDICAL DISABILITY EXEMPTIONS
You may be eligible for an exception to the English and civics naturalization requirements if you are unable to comply with these requirements because of a physical or developmental disability or a mental impairment.
To request this exception, submit Form N-648, Medical Certification for Disability Exceptions. This form must be completed by a licensed medical or osteopathic doctor, or licensed clinical psychologist.
- Receive legal assistance to apply for naturalization.
- Information from USCIS on becoming a U.S. Citizen through Naturalization.
- Study materials from USCIS for the Naturalization Test.
- Application to become a naturalized U.S. Citizen N-400.
- Fee waiver application I-912.
- Reduced Waiver application I-942.
- Find a community college that can help you learn English and study for the interview.
- Find an Adult School near you that offers Citizenship and English classes.