Becoming a U.S. citizen is a goal for many people with green cards. The naturalization interview is one of the final steps in the process. It is also one of the most important – and for many people – most stressful obstacles.
The best way to deal with the stress is to know what you can expect during the interview and prepare yourself.
Interview participation is necessary
Before your interview, you should review the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services’ (USCIS) naturalization process guide.
To proceed, you must have been a Green Card holder for at least five years, or three years if your green card is based upon marriage. You must complete an N-400 (Application for Naturalization) and attend a biometrics appointment. Once you complete the steps, the USCIS will send you the date, time and location of the interview. You should arrive at least 30 minutes before your scheduled time.
The interview is required and will take place behind closed doors by an immigration official. It will last about 20 – 45 minutes. You should bring documents that support your citizenship including:
- Green card
- State ID or driver’s license
- Passport (both current and expired)
- Birth certificate
- Travel documents issued by the USCIS
- Proof of your current marital status and any divorces
- Documentation of your spouse’s divorce, if they have ever been divorced
- Documentation of name changes
- Supporting documents for any arrests or contact with the court system
- Supporting documents of your marriage, if your green card was obtained through your spouse
The officer is looking for consistency between your answers and the N-400. They are also checking your comprehension of basic English. There will also be a naturalization test involving your understanding of United States civics. You can also prepare for the test in advance.
You can bring a representative to the hearing
If you are nervous, you can bring an attorney or representative. They can ensure the protection of your legal rights and give you advice, but they cannot answer the questions for you. The USCIS requires a notice of entry of appearance from the representative.