What are the Requirements for becoming a naturalized US citizen?
By and large the applicant must be a person of good moral character. Have been a Legal Permanent Resident for a certain period of time, i.e. 3 years if married to a US citizen or 5 if applying on their own. There are some special exceptions if one has been honorably discharged from the US Military but thats beyond the depth of this general guide. There is also the physical presence test, i.e. having lived in the US for half of the time required by law to be eligible for applying for naturalization (1,5 years for married applicants to US citizens and 2,5 for others); One must also be a resident of the state you live and reside in and apply from, i.e. usually 6 months of residing in that state, and 90 days in the county of inhabitance. Then there is the residence test, i.e. having been a permanent resident for the requisite amount of time, 3 or 5 years and not have lived and worked outside the US for more than 6 months, unless working for the US government, military or US interest.
What form do I use and how much does it cost?
Form N-400 is utilized for applying for naturalization. The current government application fees are $680. The fees are usually raised and/or reviewed every 3 years by USCIS. USCIS is a self sustaining agency within the Department of Homeland Security and essentially operates like a private company with no funding from Congress or almost none. Therefore, USCIS relies on the fees paid for by the public in applying for these benefits such as applying to naturalize to become a US citizen. What are the benefits of becoming a US naturalized citizen? Well, for one, a naturalized US citizen can vote, apply for government jobs such as state or federal jobs especially earmarked for only US citizens. A naturalized US citizen can reside overseas, travel and not have to worry about extended absences such as a Legal Permanent Resident who may only depart outside the US for short periods of time, i.e. less then 180 days without additional questioning upon return.
Additional resources provided by the author
Its always a good idea to consult with competent immigration attorney to asses one's viability to become a naturalized US citizen. There are obstacles such as failure to pay child support, extended absences outside the US, criminal convictions either within the 3 or 5 year statutory period, failure to file US income tax returns, and many more pitfalls that must be properly addressed and reviewed PRIOR to filing. For a general understanding visit our website at www.calehrlawfirm.com OR www.uscis.gov and click on immigration and than naturalization.