To qualify for United States citizenship via naturalization, you’re required to be at least 18 years old and to have lived here for five years or more. In the event that you are married to an American citizen, then you can apply at the three-year point instead. Additional requirements that must be met to qualify for citizenship via this method are listed on the N-400 form, also known as the Application for Naturalization.

To get the naturalization process started, you’ll need to start by filling out the N-400 and signing it. If you’re not yet living in the U.S., then you’ll need to also affix two passport-sized photographs to your application. All applicants have to include any documents that help substantiate their case for naturalization as well as any processing fees.

After submitting your application for naturalization, you’ll receive a notice from the United States Citizenship and immigrantion Services (USCIS) office letting you know when your biometrics appointment is. At this appointment, you will have your photograph and fingerprints taken.

These will be utilized to run a background check on you. It’s mandatory that you complete this step before you can move on to an interview.

At the interview session, you’ll be asked questions regarding the N-400 you filled out and also be asked to take both a civics and English language test.

In many cases, the USCIS officer you meet with will be able to provide you with an updated status in your case at the conclusion of your appointment. In some cases, he or she may ask you to conduct a follow-up interview, to provide more documentation or to retake a test before a decision is reached.

Soon thereafter, you will be provided with a written decision that your request for naturalization has either been granted or denied. Applicants wishing to have their cases reevaluated must file an N-336 form requesting a hearing in the matter within 30 days of receiving the denial.

If your request is granted, you’ll be invited to participate in a mandatory Oath of Allegiance Ceremony where you will officially become a citizen.

If you have questions about whether you quality for naturalization or about why your application was denied, a San Diego citizenship attorney can provide guidance.

Source: U.S. Citizenship and immigrantion Services, “10 Steps to Naturalization,” accessed Oct. 13, 2017