Naturalization Lawyers in Pennsylvania
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Pennsylvania Naturalization Attorney Helping Clients Become U.S. Citizens

Coming to the United States and eventually becoming a citizen is a dream for many immigrants, and it’s a dream that can become a reality. The United States offers immigrants a path to citizenship, referred to as naturalization.

If you believe that you want to make the United States your permanent home and enjoy all of the benefits, rights, and responsibilities that natural-born citizens have, this may be a good option for you to consider. Find out more about the process of naturalization and get answers to common questions in this article.

Becoming a naturalized citizen can offer many benefits and help you solidify the United States as your home. But it’s also a lengthy process with many requirements, and it can be confusing to navigate on your own. When you work with our legal team, you have access to an experienced immigration attorney who can help guide you through the naturalization process, answering your questions and providing peace of mind.

What Is Naturalization?

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services(USCIS) defines naturalization as “the process by which U.S. citizenship is granted to a lawful permanent resident after meeting the requirements established by Congress in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).” In easy terms, it’s how immigrants are able to gain U.S. citizenship and all of the rights and responsibilities attached to that status.

Naturalization is open to lawful permanent residents — also known as green card holders — who are at least 18 years of age. You must have lived continuously in the United States for a minimum of five years and have been physically present in the country for the last 2.5 years. These minimums can be lowered if you are married to a U.S. citizen. In that case, you only have to have lived continuously in the country for three years and been physically present for the last 18 months.

How Do You Apply for Naturalization?

To apply for naturalization, you must complete Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, and submit it to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). You will also need to have a biometrics appointment, if you haven’t already, where you will have your fingerprint and photo taken.

This information is used to complete a background check through the Federal Bureau of Investigation to ensure that you don’t have any past criminal history or other issues that may make you ineligible for U.S. citizenship. You will also need to go through the naturalization interview, pass a civics test, and demonstrate that you have adequate English proficiency, which are discussed in more detail below.

If your naturalization application is approved, you will need to take the Oath of Allegiance to the United States, and after that, you will receive your Certificate of Naturalization.


The naturalization interview is generally held at the USCIS office that is closest to you. The interviewer will ask you questions about the information you provided on your application, which could include questions about how long you’ve been in the United States and your previous immigration background. During the interview, you will also take the civics test and demonstrate your proficiency in the English language.

However, there are some circumstances that allow for these requirements to be waived. If you are planning on asking for a medical exemption from this part of the interview, you will need to submit Form N-468.

Documents for a Naturalization Interview

You should bring copies of all the naturalization documents you submitted with your application to your interview. Additionally, bring:

  • A state-issued photo identification,
  • Records of your international travel, and
  • Any updates to previously submitted documents.

It is a good idea to bring a second copy of your documents to be safe.

Civics Test

The civics test is administered during your naturalization interview. It covers U.S. history and government and includes ten questions out of a possible 100. These questions are available online through the USCIS so that you can prepare beforehand and feel more confident when taking your test. You must get at least six of the questions correct for a passing score.

English Language Proficiency

To be eligible for U.S. citizenship, you have to show a base proficiency in the English language, including being able to speak and understand the language as well as read and write in English. The speaking and understanding portions are taken care of via the interview itself, as the officer will be looking to see if you are able to clearly understand the questions that are being asked and respond appropriately.

The reading portion of the test involves having to read a passage of three sentences. If you can correctly read at least one of the sentences, that is a passing score. The writing test is similar, with the person being required to correctly write at least one out of three sentences that will be spoken to the applicant.

How Long Does It Take to Become a Naturalized Citizen?

From first coming to the United States to becoming a naturalized citizen often takes many years. From green card to be able to apply for naturalization is at least three to five years on its own, and it takes around one year for USCIS to process naturalization applications.

And all of this doesn’t count the time it may have taken you to gain lawful permanent resident status. It’s a lengthy process, but if you’re concerned about how long the process might take or you have time-sensitive circumstances, you can talk to an immigration attorney about your options.

What Happens If My Naturalization Application Is Denied?

If you receive a denial notice for your naturalization application, you have the opportunity to appeal the decision. You must file Form N-336, Request for a Hearing on a Decision in Naturalization Proceedings, with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office. This form and the accompanying fee must be filed within 30 days of the decision date on your naturalization application.

This is important because the time it takes for the decision to reach you by mail will already be counted in this period. The denial letter should provide a specific reason that your application was denied, and you can take this to an immigration attorney to get help understanding what happened. The attorney can tell you if you have grounds to appeal or if you need to reapply at a later time after you are able to address any reasons for denial.

Can I Sponsor Family Members?

Yes! Once you are a U.S. citizen, you have more options for sponsoring family members than you do as a green card holder. Once you are naturalized, you can sponsor your parents, children, spouse, and siblings. They will still need to meet the requirements to be eligible for a visa, but U.S. citizens have many options for legally bringing their family members into the United States to live.

Will I Be Able to Vote and Be Eligible for Federal Benefits?

One of the main advantages of becoming naturalized is that you gain the ability to vote in U.S. elections, including those at the city, state, and national levels. You are also eligible for jobs with the federal government, federal student aid, and state and federal benefits.

However, you will still need to meet any income requirements or other criteria. To register to vote, you can go online to or go in person to a local voter registration office, such as a Department of Motor Vehicles. To find out whether you qualify for aid and other programs, contact your local branch of the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services.

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