6 Essential Steps Before Applying for U.S. Citizenship

Becoming a U.S. citizen is a significant milestone in the journey of immigrants. It offers a range of benefits and opportunities, including the right to vote and the ability to sponsor family members for immigration. However, the process of applying for citizenship can be complex and requires careful preparation. As a leading source of support for our community, here are five crucial steps you should take before beginning your application:

1. Determine Your Eligibility: Before applying for U.S. citizenship, it’s essential to ensure that you meet the eligibility criteria. Visit dominicanosusa.org or consult with an immigration attorney to review the requirements, which typically include factors such as length of residency, good moral character, and adherence to U.S. laws.

2. English Proficiency: One of the requirements for citizenship is demonstrating proficiency in the English language. You must be able to read, write, and speak basic English. If you need assistance improving your English skills, consider enrolling in classes offered by Dominicanos USA which provide resources to help our community learn English in preparation for the citizenship interview and exams. 

3. Understanding of U.S. History and Civic Questions: As part of the citizenship application process, you’ll be tested on your knowledge of U.S. history and civics. Dominicanos USA is developing a free course in English and Spanish to assist with the civic questions, visit cursos.dominicanosusa.org for more information. Our course is designed to provide our audience with a basic understanding of key historical events, the structure of the U.S. government, and civic responsibilities.

4. Gather Necessary Documentation: Prepare documentation related to your residency, including information about your children, spouse, and any travel you’ve undertaken in the past five years. This includes dates of departure and return, as well as destinations visited. Having this information organized and readily available will streamline the application process.

5. Explore Fee Waiver Options: The application fee for U.S. citizenship can be a significant expense for many immigrants. However, certain individuals may qualify for a fee waiver based on their financial circumstances. Visit the New Americans Campaign website (newamericanscampaign.org) to learn more about eligibility requirements and how to apply for a fee waiver.

6. Resolve Tax Obligation: One of the questions in the citizenship application (N-400) inquires about the status of your taxes. Before applying, make sure you are up to date with your income taxes with the IRS. 

Bonus Tip: Establish Residency in Your State: While not a formal requirement, it’s beneficial to have resided in the state where you plan to apply for U.S. citizenship for at least three months. This demonstrates your commitment to your chosen community and can simplify the application process.

In conclusion, applying for U.S. citizenship is a significant step that requires careful preparation and attention to detail. By following these five essential steps and considering the bonus tip, you can increase your chances of a successful application process and realize your dream of becoming a U.S. citizen.