This article will be a work in progress. It will be like a diary. I plan to chronicle my mom’s US citizenship application from the beginning to the end. Hopefully, she’ll become an eagle when this article is finished. This article should contain the procedures that we had to go through, some tips, and the time frame of her application process.
I also want to make a disclaimer that the information in this article is based from our experiences alone. Everyone’s situation is different. What is applicable to mom might not be applicable to yours. Check out USCIS for more information.
My mom has a green card and she has been living in the US for 5 years. According to USCIS, she is now qualified to apply for US citizenship.
You should have all your documents ready before you even begin the application. This would make the initial application process easier and faster. This includes your green card, social security #, passport, birth certificate, marriage certificate, etc. You should also have your departure and arrival dates on hand if you have gone out of the US in the last 5 years.
So, without any further ado, let’s begin.
There are two ways on how to apply for citizenship: paper and online. We opted to do the former. Yes. Total old school. We went to the Immigration Information Office in our local area and asked the Immigration Officer for help and instructions.
July 9, 2019 – Initial application
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Fill out Form N-400 (Application for Naturalization). Click here for the instructions.
- Two 2×2 color picture. Don’t forget your Lady Gaga poker face when taking the picture.
- A copy of your green card (front and back)
- Pay $725 application fee. This includes the $640 application fee and $85 biometrics fee. You can pay using your personal check, cashier’s check, money order, OR a credit card (attach form G-1450 if paying with a credit card). Since I love LOVE credit card points for travel, we opted for the latter.
After completing and gathering all these documents, you can now mail it to:
For U.S. Postal Service (USPS):
P.O. Box 21251
Phoenix, AZ 85036
For FedEx, UPS, and DHL deliveries:
1820 E. Skyharbor Circle S
Phoenix, AZ 85034
We chose the good ole USPS. I certified mail ours. This way, I will be able to track where our application is.
July 13, 2019 – USCIS received the application
Finally, we got a mail that USCIS got mom’s N-400 application.
July 23, 2019 – Received Form I-797C
This is just to confirm mom’s application, and to set up mom’s USCIS online account, where she can see notifications and documents regarding her naturalization application.
August 7, 2019 – Biometrics
Not even a month since her date of application and my mom got called in for her biometrics in Honolulu. This is where the nearest USCIS center takes her picture, signature, and fingerprints to do a background check, and to make sure that she is who she say she is on her application. They also gave her a booklet that contains 100 questions and answers about the United States. She will need to review and memorize the answers for her interview. She will be tested about her knowledge of the US, and tested for her basic English writing, reading, and speaking skills.
January 28, 2020 – Interview Appointment Scheduled
We received an email notification that we have a new letter from USCIS. And so I went online to her USCIS account and checked it. It’s a letter stating that mom has a US Citizenship interview on March 3, 2020. This is it! From this day until March 3, I will be reviewing mom. Her interview will consist of the Civics test (history and important points about the US), reading test, writing test, and of course, probably questions about her personal information and N-400 application details.
March 3, 2020 – The US Citizenship Interview
This is D-Day! I was actually more nervous than the interviewee herself! It was 9:20 am. They called her name. It was a grueling 15-minute wait on my part. Waiting is always the hardest part. I was hoping and praying. It felt like I was the one taking a board exam of some sort. LOL.
Moments later, she came out, and she had a sheet of paper letting her know that…SHE PASSED!!! What a relief!
A USCIS agent, then, came out saying that she needed to return to the USCIS office at around 1:30 pm (that same day) for the Oath Taking. Since we live outside the island of Oahu (there are 8 main islands in Hawaii), they do same-day interview and Oath Taking for the applicants living in the neighboring islands.
At around 1:30 pm, along with 46 others, mom became a US Citizen! Oh happy day!
What a journey it has been. Overall, it took around 8 months from the time of application to the time that she got her US Citizenship. Again, this is case to case basis.
She would have to go to the Social Security Administration to change her status from a green card holder to a US Citizen. She will also need to update her Hawaii State ID. Furthermore, she can now apply for a US passport.
If you are thinking of getting your US Citizenship, good luck. I hope this step by step process can help you in a way. Review well and you should be fine.
I’ve attached pictures of my mom from her Oath Taking ceremony. Proud son here 🙂