A blog about U.S. immigration matters by Paul Szeto, a former INS attorney and an experienced immigration lawyer. We serve clients in all U.S. states and overseas countries. (All information is not legal advice and is subject to change without prior notice.)

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Thursday, September 22, 2016

Changes in Naturalization Application Process

Are you ready to vote? For our next president?  Make sure you are an American citizen first.  Every time when we get close to a presidential election, there is usually an increase in the number of applications for naturalization.  People want to take part in the democratic process.  They want to cast that sacred vote to choose the country's next leader.  And they apply for citizenship.

There are some changes in the naturalization application process.  First, the N-400 Application for Naturalization form is being processed electronically.  As a result, applicants no longer need to provide two passport-style photographs with their application.  After their application is filed, they will be scheduled for a biometric appointment at a local Application Support Center (ASC) for collection of their fingerprints, photographs and signature, regardless of their age.

Yes, regardless of age, all applicants must now attend a biometrics appointment at an ASC for fingerprinting, photographs, etc.  USCIS used to waive the fingerprint requirement for applicants 75 years or older.  This is no longer true.  With improved technology, USCIS can now capture fingerprints for applicants of all ages. However, applicants aged 75 and older do not have to pay the biometrics fee.

USCIS has special programs to accommodate applicants with disabilities and other special needs. For example, all domestic USCIS facilities are accessible to individuals with disabilities. Other special arrangements can also be made to accommodate the needs of the elderly and applicants who are homebound or hospitalized.  Applicants who need special accommodations can make the request with the application for naturalization, make an online request, or may call the National Customer Service Center (NCSC) at any time at 800-375-5283.  

The following are the basic requirements for naturalization:  (1) Be at least 18 years old at the time of filing Form N-400, Application for Naturalization. (2) Be a permanent resident (have a “Green Card”) for at least 5 years. (3) Show that you have lived for at least 3 months in the state or USCIS district where you apply. (4) Demonstrate continuous residence in the United States for at least 5 years immediately preceding the date of filing Form N-400.  (5) Show that you have been physically present in the United States for at least 30 months out of the 5 years immediately preceding the date of filing Form N-400. (6) Be able to read, write, and speak basic English. (7) Have a basic understanding of U.S. history and government.  (8) Be a person of good moral character. (9) Demonstrate an attachment to the principles and ideals of the U.S. Constitution.

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