Training Module 1

Becoming a U.S. citizen:
The Benefits and Process of
Presented by:
Aidin Castillo, Staff Attorney
Immigrant Legal Resource Center
Learning Objectives
• Identify the benefits of
• Explain the 7 steps of the
naturalization process.
• Understand the rules and
content of a citizenship
• Provide naturalization
resources to clients.
• Benefits and Concerns
of naturalization
• Naturalization Tests
• Naturalization Process
• Resources
Benefits and Concerns of Naturalization
Why becoming a U.S. citizen matters
• 8.5 million adults are eligible to become U.S.
• Promotes civic engagement:
• Right to vote (greater voter turn out)
• Right to hold public office
• Increased participation in community decisions
• Economic benefits
• Increased earnings and income
• Increased revenue for communities
Benefits of Becoming a U.S. citizen
Vote in U.S. elections
Can not be deported
Benefits of Becoming a U.S. citizen
 Travel with a U.S. passport
 Help more relatives immigrate to the U.S. (and
in some cases more quickly)
 Obtain certain government jobs
 Obtain certain government benefits
 Live in another country without losing the right
to return to the U.S.
 Acknowledgement of “american-ism”
 Civic engagement
Concerns about becoming a U.S. citizen
• Identity/Cultural values
• May mean giving up citizenship to own country
• Cost of applying
• Application fee (possible attorney’s fee)
• Time consuming
Concerns about becoming a U.S. citizen
• Intimidated by naturalization process
• Interview
• English language and U.S government and history
• Risk loosing green card (if have committed certain
crimes, break immigration laws or “abandon” residence
in U.S.)
Why becoming a U.S. citizen matters
U.S. Department of
Homeland Security
U.S. Immigration
and Customs
Enforcement (ICE)
U.S. Customs and
Border Protection
U.S. Citizenship
and immigration
Services (USCIS)
Process of Naturalizing
Becoming a U.S. citizen
U.S. citizenship:
• By birth (14th Amendment to U.S. Constitution)
• Born to U.S. citizen parent
• Acquisition of citizenship at birth
• Derivation of citizenship (by age 18)
• Naturalization process
Basic Requirements:
• At least 18 years old
• Lawful Permanent Resident (green card)
• Have been a permanent resident in the U.S. for 5
years (or 3 if married to a U.S. citizen)
• Good moral character
• Have not left the U.S. for long periods of time in the
last 5 years (or 3 if married to a U.S. citizen)
• Physical presence in the U.S. for at least half of the 5
year period (or 3 if married to a U.S. citizen)
• Pass English and U.S. government and history exams
• Loyalty oath and attachment to U.S. constitution
Overview of the Naturalization Process
Determine if
already a U.S.
If not, then Step 2
Determine eligibility to
If yes, then Step 3
Complete Naturalization
Application, Form N-400
Gather documents
Overview of the Naturalization Process
Submit Application to Attend background
U.S. Citizenship &
check appointment
Immigration Services
If application
approved, then
Step 7
Take oath of
Attend interview
Complete English and
U.S. history and
government exams, if
What are two benefits exclusive to U.S.
Right to vote and travel abroad.
Right to work and get healthcare.
Right to serve on a jury and vote.
Right to help family members come to
the U.S. and get healthcare.
What is the last step required to become a U.S.
citizen through the naturalization process?
A) Filing your application with USCIS.
B) Taking the English and U.S. History
and Government exams.
C) Attend the interview.
D) Take Oath of Allegiance.
Naturalization Tests:
English and US History Exams
Overview of Tests
Speaking Test
• tested by asking question about N-400, U.S. History and Civics, and
exchanging pleasantries
Reading Test
• read one out of three sentences correctly to demonstrate an ability to read
in English.
• write one out of three sentences correctly to demonstrate an ability to write
in English
Civics Test
• There are 100 civics questions on the naturalization test. During
naturalization interview, the applicant will be asked up to 10 questions from
the list of 100 questions. The applicant must answer correctly at least six
(6) of the 10 questions to pass the civics test.
English (most common reason for denial)
English Language Exemption Rules
55/15 Rule
• 55 years old and 15 years of lawful permanent
residence (LPR) at time of applying for naturalization
50/20 Rule:
• 50 years old and 20 years of lawful permanent
residence (LPR) at time of applying for naturalization
To remember, both add up to 70
U.S. History and Government requirements
Tested by asking 10 of 100 predetermined questions.
1. 65 years old and 20 years as a LPR gets easier
test – tested by asking 10 of the easiest 20
2. If language exempt, can take US history and
government exam in native language.
3. Disability waiver exception (N-648) – Exam can be
waived if have a disability that prevents learning.
Applicant Test Failure
• Applicant gets two chances to pass exam!
• If Applicant Doesn’t Pass
• If applicant fails any of the tests at the initial
interview, she will be retested on the portion of
the test that she failed (English or Civics)
• Re-test is 60 to 90 days from the date of the initial
interview. See 8 CFR 312.5(a) and 335.3(b).
• Best to partner with an organization or adult school
teaching English and civics
Sample Civics' Exam Question
What are two Cabinet-level positions
A. Secretary of Interior and Secretary of History
B. Secretary of Health and Human Service and
Secretary of the Navy
C. Secretary of Weather and Secretary of Energy
D. Secretary of State and Secretary of Labor (correct)
Sample Civics’ Exam Question
When was the U.S. Constitution written?
1787 (correct!)
Which is true about the English
language exam?
If you do not pass the exam you will not be allowed to
reapply to naturalize.
Every person who wants to become a U.S. citizen must
pass the exam.
If you are 55 years old and have been a lawful
permanent resident for 15 years you are exempt from
the English requirement.
This is the easiest part of the naturalization process for
most applicants.
Naturalization Application
USCIS Resource Center
USCIS Guide to Naturalization
(includes FAQs)
ILRC resources (free), including,
annotated forms and translations
ILRC ‘s Naturalization and U.S.
Citizenship: The Essential Legal