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What should I expect from the naturalization process?

"A Guide to Naturalization" needs to be read before anyone starts the naturalization process. It answers a lot of the common questions that people have about the process.

The next step is to complete the worksheet in the back of the guide. This will determine if you are eligible for naturalization. The worksheet will tell you if you are eligible, and if so, then you need to get an "Application for Naturalization" or Form N-400.

Make sure you complete this form in its entirety. You could experience a delay in processing if the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services determines that your application is not complete. Two passport-sized pictures must be sent in with your application. These photos can't be older than 30 days.

Next, you'll need to get a copy of your Form I-551 if you are a permanent resident of the U.S. You may have to send in specific documents that are listed on the Document Checklist, which is in the back of this Guide. Submit photocopies, but bring originals to your interview. If a document is not in English, then a translated copy will need to be sent. Then send your application, documents and correct fee to the USCIS Lockbox Facility in your area.

You will receive a letter telling you where to go to have your fingerprints taken. Once that is done, the USCIS will send you a letter telling where you have to go to have your interview. Go to your appointment with identification and any additional documents the USCIS needed. You will take a civics test and an English test during the interview.

After you have completed the interview and tests, you will receive a Form N-652. This form will tell you whether your naturalization request was approved, denied or continued. If you are approved, you'll be given a date to come to a ceremony where you will take an Oath of Allegiance to the U.S. You will need to arrive at 30 minutes early and check in with USCIS. You'll have to give the USCIS your Permanent Resident Card when you check in.

Another interview will take place if there is more than a day between the ceremony and your interview. Then you will take the oath and receive you Certificate of Naturalization.

It is often easier to have an experienced professional assist with this process.

Source: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, "A Guide to Naturalization," accessed Dec. 23, 2015

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