There are currently millions of people living in the U.S. who are eligible to apply for United States citizenship, but have not yet done so. Nearly one-third of this group has held green cards since before 1989. In most cases, you can apply for citizenship after just five years of receiving a green card. That means that a huge number of people have delayed becoming citizens for 20 years or more.
It’s not clear why so many eligible immigrants are putting off applying for citizenship. For some people it may be the difficulty of the paperwork involved. Other people may be concerned about passing the required test of English language skills and U.S. civics. However, these obstacles are not as difficult as you may think.
Moreover, these obstacles are nothing compared to the obstacle of one day being faced with losing your green card. I would like to point out one very important fact: Until you become a citizen, you can potentially still be placed into deportation proceedings, even with a green card. For example, a green card holder of over 16 years was arrested for drug possession and is now facing deportation. All of his family is in the United States, this is where his home is, yet, he has to go through a very daunting process of defending himself in immigration court. All this could have been avoided if he had applied for citizenship when he was allowed to do so. This is precisely why I urge you to apply for citizenship as soon as the law permits you to do so. Life is unpredictable, and the last thing you want to do is find yourself in deportation proceedings defending your green card and the right to stay in the United States.
Citizenship and Naturalization
The process of becoming a U.S. citizen is called naturalization. You apply for naturalization by filing a Form N-400. This form asks for personal information in order to determine your eligibility to apply for citizenship.
Once your application is approved, most people must also pass an interview that tests your English and knowledge of American civics. Your interviewer will test your language skills by speaking to you in English and asking you to read and write short sentences. Next, your interviews will ask you 10 questions about American history and government. You must answer at least six questions correctly to pass. There are waivers of the English and Civics requirements available to those with certain disabilities and the elderly.
If the naturalization process still seems like a daunting challenge to you, don’t be intimidated. An experienced immigration and naturalization lawyer can help you complete your application and practice to ace your interview. With the right assistance and preparation, you can make your dreams of U.S. citizenship a reality.