The Naturalization Process

I’m currently living in the US as a “premanent resident”, with what is known as a “green card”.  This means I can live here as long as I like, but I’m not a citizen.  I can’t vote, I can’t leave the country for more than six months at a time, and there are some tax problems.

On Election day this year, November 4th 2008, I decided to apply for citizenship, and so filled in my form and sent it off.   This is what happened so far (I’ll update it as more thing happen).

Nov 4th 2008

– Filled in the N400 form.  This can be downloaded from the slightly confusing USCIS web site.  It’s a PDF that you can fill in at your computer and then save and print out.   I’m sure eventually they will accept it over the internet, but for now you’ve got to mail it in.
– Took some passport photos.   These have to be ratther particular, 2″x2″.  There’s a nice page explaining all the details, or you can just pay someone to do it for you.   You need to send them two, and keep two for later.   I did them myself, Holly took a photo of me with a white background, and I cropped it to fit.  You write your “A Number” on the back of the photo, in pencil.
– Wrote check for $675.   Somewhat expensive.
– Sent it all in (I actually did the above over a few days, but I mailed it on election day).
(There’s a handy checklist for the above).

Nov 13th 2008

An I-797C Notice of Action arrives, telling me my application has arrived, and I should hear from them within 425 days.  Yes, it actually said 425 day.

Nov 20th 2008

Rather surpisingly, I hear from them a week later, with a letter telling that I have an appointment to be fingerprinted on december 4th, at 12 PM.  Not too bad.  But I think the long wait comes after, waiting for the interview.

Dec 4th 2008

Fingerprinting day.  I arrive at 11:40 for my 12PM appointment.   Not very busy.  They are very serious about their “No Cellphone” rule, making me leave mine in the car.   I fill in a form, and am called in less than five minutes.   The fingerprinting took arount 10 minutes (a grumpy Russian woman, constantly berating the machine).  My fingers were too dry, so they were squirted with water several times, but eventually it worked.

They game me a book to study for the Naturalization test, questions like:  What is the “rule of law”.  Now I just have to wait until an interview is scheduled.  No idea how long that will take.

Dec 18th 2008

I’ve got my appointment for the interview.  Set for Feb 17th 2009, at 7:45AM.

Feb 17th 2009

Naturalization interview.

March 3rd 2009

I get a letter informing me that the Naturalization Oath Ceremony is on March 25th, 2009, at the Pomana Fairplex, 12:30 PM.   I am to bring the letter, my green card, probably my passports (just to be safe).   I also have to assert that since the interview I have not practiced polygamy or been a habitual drunkard.

They also note that “Proper attire should be worn”

March 25th 2009

Naturalization oath ceremony, I’m now an American.  Applied for passport.

April 15th 2009

Passport arrives, and the Naturalization certificate was returned in a separate envelope.  Basically five and a half months from applying to getting the passport and certificate.