The application procedure for acquiring citizenship of the United States of America is divided into a number of steps which need to be completed, starting with checking your eligibility and, if you are lucky enough, ending with taking the Oath of Allegiance, which grants you the status of a U.S. citizen.

Step 1: Eligibility check

In order to be eligible for U.S. citizenship you need to meet certain pre-set requirements. Continuous residence for the length of at least five years (temporary absence is tolerated if it is under six months) is required, unless you are married to a U.S. citizen in which case the length of the residence needs to be three years or more (with the condition that the U.S. citizen you married is also a resident for at least three years).

Your knowledge of English language, American history and culture, as well as familiarity with functioning of the U.S. government are also necessary for a successful application and need to be taken very seriously.

Furthermore, eligible are only applicants of good moral character, those who respect the principles of the Constitution of the U.S. and are ready to defend and support them.

Step 2: Collecting documents, necessary data and submitting the application form

Once you established that you are eligible for the application, you need to fill in the application form for naturalization, known as N400. This is a rather complicated form which requires some effort to understand and properly complete. Bear in mind that you will have to be familiar with the answers you give in the form, since the interviewing officer at the interview which comes at later stages is more than likely to ask you some of those questions again.

Together with N400 form, you will need to submit some personal documents (a number of which varies depending on your personal circumstances), all translated into English by a certified translator. To the application completed in this way attach 2 standard passport sized photographs and send it to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Step 3: Submitting fingerprints and completing the application

After USCIS mails you a confirmation that your application has been submitted, the next thing to do is to go to the specified location and give your fingerprints. It is also possible that the letter which you receive will ask for more documents in order to complete your application.

Step 4: Interview

After receiving the appointment date from USCIS, proceed to the location given to you at the scheduled time, bringing with you an ID and whichever documents USCIS may have asked from you in the letter. You will be interviewed and will take English and Civics tests, after which you should wait for the final decision on your application.

Step 5: Taking the Oath

Once your application is approved, you will receive a letter from USCIS, informing you on the date and place for the ceremony on which you will take the Oath of Allegiance. Your permanent resident card will be taken and you will receive your certificate of naturalization.

The process of acquiring U.S. citizenship is long and can occasionally be very frustrating. Seeking help from immigration lawyers is highly recommended as it will greatly reduce chances of possible mistakes which can affect your chances for successful application.