Naturalization in the USA is the legal process of obtaining U.S. citizenships by foreigners. The procedure of becoming a new citizen of the United States is rather long. Each applicant must meet very strict requirements secured by Congress, concerning not only his age and the time of permanent staying in U.S., but also his moral qualities and absence of criminal records.
As a whole, all legal immigrants older than eighteen can become the citizens of the USA. When they apply for naturalization, they must have stayed in the country for at least five years. They are not forbidden leaving the country; meanwhile their absence must not last longer than 30 months in total or 12 consecutive months. Writing an application for getting a U.S. citizenship, each person must be ready to pass several tests that show their knowledge of spoken and written English, the USA history and Constitution main laws. Each applicant must prove his loyalty to the USA and its government. All these tests are included in the interview with an officer of USCIS.
When an applicant passes the exams and when he meets all the needs requirements to become a United States citizen, he can take the Oath of Allegiance for Naturalized Citizens. The person is asked if he is ready to swear allegiance to the United States. This Oath is given at the ceremony of taking citizenship. With a successful interview, the date of the Oath ceremony together with the other applicants is detected. The ceremony of vowing in some areas is conducted a few months after an interview. The person waiting for an Oath is allowed to travel abroad in the period between the interview and the ceremony, but he must meet all the requirements, including living in the US, mentioned above. During the Oath ceremony the applicant for the USA citizenship is asked questions about the trips that he made after the interview. After the Oath the applicant gets a Naturalization Certificate. After he gets all the rights of a usual American citizen, except one thing he (she) cannot become either president or vice president of the country.
Applying for Naturalization
According to USCIS (the U.S. Customs and Immigration Service), the applicant to the process of Naturalization must:
• Be eighteen years old and over at the time when he fills in N-400 Form on USCIS site;
• Legally permanently reside in the country for 5 years and more. Usually Green Card gives these rights;
• Have resided in the state where he applies for Naturalization 3 months and more;
• Prove that he did not leave the USA last 30 months before he applied for Naturalization;
• Show his basic knowledge of English, including speaking, writing and reading skills;
• Understand the USA civics and history (basic knowledge);
• Show good moral and social behavior;
• Realize the USA Constitution ideas;
Civics test that consists of 100 questions is the must to all the persons applying for Naturalization. Each applicant must answer correctly at least for 6 questions of 10 answered to him. When an applicant fails this exam, he has another attempt to pass it. When the second civic test is failed, in 90 days the person has another challenge. He is asked the questions on the topic he did not show enough knowledge in last time.
English speaking test
The applicants’ English speaking skills are tested by an officer working for USCIS. The test is a part of an interview on Form N-400.
English reading test
Applicants must read at least one of three given to them sentences in English correctly.
English writing test
When a person applies for Naturalization, during the interview on Form N-400, he must read correctly minimum a sentence of three ones given to him.
The percentage of people passed the tests
Studying the results of over 2 million tests on Naturalization, passes since October, 2009 through June, 2012, the USCIS concluded: over 95.8% applicants pass all the tests successfully. In comparison with 1987, when the percentage of people who passed these examinations reached only 87.1%, it is a huge progress. The applicants showed an excellent knowledge of spoken English (97%) and civics (97.5%).
The time spent for Naturalization process
In 2012 the total time (average results) from applying for Naturalization and tests till the Oath was 4.8 months in 2012. In comparison with 2008, when the same process took about a year, the time was halved.
Oath of Citizenship
Those who complete all the procedures described above successfully, take an Oath of U.S. Citizenship and Allegiance.