Become a Citizen
As a U.S. citizen, you will be able to:
- Vote in national, state, and local elections. As a citizen, you will have a more powerful voice in your community.
- Run for public office and serve on juries.
- Sponsor family members to immigrate to the United States.
- Gain citizenship automatically for your children (under 18).
- Have a U.S. Passport. You can travel and live overseas without time restrictions or having to obtain a reentry permit.
- Lose your fear of deportation. Unlike people with green cards, a U.S. citizen can never be deported or denied entry to the United States.
- Apply for more employment opportunities. Many government and private jobs require U.S. citizenship.
- Access public benefits. Many government scholarships, loans, and grants are available only to U.S. citizens.
- Solidify your position in the United States. Citizens never have to renew their status or notify USCIS if they move.
In order to be eligible for U.S. citizenship, you must:
- Be at least 18 years old.
- Have been a legal permanent resident (have a green card) for five years. If you are married to a U.S. citizen, you only need to have been a permanent resident for three years.
- Have been physically present in the United States for 30 months during the past five years (18 months if married to a U.S. citizen). You may not have made any trips outside the U.S. longer than six months.
- Have a basic knowledge of English and U.S. History/Civics (age exemptions are available for those who qualify).
- Be a person of good moral character.
Submit an application (N-400 Application for Naturalization) with all supporting documentation.
- Receive a confirmation letter.
- Receive a Biometrics appointment. Get fingerprinted at a USCIS facility.
- Pass the interview and exam. You will have to answer questions about your application and complete a U.S. civics test. The interview and exam is in English, although age exemptions are available for the English requirement.
- Take the Oath of Allegiance. Congratulations, you are now a U.S. citizen!
Please check the USCIS website regarding the 18 years old being able to register to vote.
How can AAUhelp me become a U.S. citizen?
AAU offers assistance and guidance through the entire naturalization process. We directly offer application assistance (Form N-400), citizenship classes, mentoring/tutoring sessions, and financial assistance for those who qualify.
- AAU’s program is designed for and centered around individuals in the community. During an appointment for application assistance, the applicant sits one-on-one with an Americorps member and provides the necessary information to complete the application.
- Our citizenship classes are structured around the guidelines provided by USCIS and comprised of U.S History/Civics, reading, and writing portions. The classes prepare you to pass the citizenship exam and become a U.S. citizen.
- Our mentoring/tutoring sessions are designed to simulate rehearsal interviews to prepare you for your interview. We understand that every interview appointment is different, but using the USCIS sample interview, we can create an effective interview atmosphere.
Am I eligible for citizenship?
You must be 18 years and older and:
- You must have been a legal permanent resident (with your “green card”) for at least five years OR have been married to a U.S. citizen for three years.
- You must have been in the country for at least 30 months during the past five years, and you cannot have taken a trip outside of the country the lasted six months or longer without permission from USCIS.
- You must demonstrate English proficiency
Why should I become a U.S. citizen?
There are many benefits that come with U.S. citizenship that you do not have as a legal permanent resident, including the right to vote, access to a U.S. passport, the ability to sponsor family members for residency, and citizenship eligibility for children (under 18). In addition, U.S. citizens are never denied entry to the United States nor face deportation.
Is knowledge of English required to become a U.S. citizen?
Fluency in English is not a requirement, but basic conversational English skills are necessary to pass the citizenship interview and exam. If you need to improve your English, many of our organizations offer English classes for all levels. If you already are conversational in English, our citizenship classes will prepare you by teaching the specific vocabulary necessary for the interview.
Some applicants may take the interview and exam in their native language if they meet the criteria below. To do so, you must bring your own interpreter (who cannot be a family member). To qualify, one of the following must be true:
- You are over 50 years old or older and have had your green card for more than 20 years.
- You are over 55 years old or older and have had your green card for 15 years or more.
- If you are 65 years old or older and have had your green card for 20 years or more, you can take your exam in your native language and only study 20 out of the 100 questions.
How can my children become U.S. citizens?
Upon your naturalization, any of your unmarried children under 18 automatically become U.S. citizens, as long as your children have green cards and you have legal and physical custody of them. You may obtain proof of your child’s citizenship by filing an N-600 or applying for a U.S. passport.
What is the application process like?
You must first file an application for naturalization (Form N-400) with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The filing fee is $680. Upon receipt of your application, USCIS will contact you about getting fingerprinted. After the USCIS processes all the necessary paperwork, you will be scheduled for your citizenship interview. A USCIS officer will ask you questions about your application and test your knowledge of English and U.S. history and civics. Upon passing your interview, you will go before a judge and take an oath of citizenship. Congratulations, you are now a U.S. citizen!
While time varies from case to case, the average timeline is 3-6 months in Maryland. Thus, we recommend that you enroll in a citizenship class before you submit your application in order to give yourself enough time to prepare for your interview.
Where is the USCIS office in Maryland?
The USCIS Baltimore Field Office has moved! (January 2014)
All citizenship interviews and correspondence are through the Baltimore
3701 Koppers Street
Halethorpe, MD 21227
Application Support Centers in Alexandria (VA), Baltimore, Salisbury, and Wheaton provide fingerprinting services. Residents of other states may be directed to an office in their own state.
How do I check on my application status?
You may check the status of your application by visiting www.uscis.gov or calling 800-375-5283. You may also go to your local USCIS field office. You can schedule an appointment through the USCIS Infopass System.