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Becoming a citizen: it's more than just an application

When someone wants to naturalize, he or she needs to fill out the Form N-400, Application for Naturalization. It seems simple, right? It's not. Anyone in South Carolina who has become a citizen through naturalization will tell you that there is far more that has to be done than just filling out the application. As it is, the application can be confusing and one wrong answer could be considered fraudulent and ban someone from becoming a citizen of the U.S.

One of the nice things about naturalization is that it no longer matters if you are a family or employment-based immigrant -- the requirements are the same. Unless you are the spouse of an American citizen, family and employment based immigrants' residency requirements are the same, as are the numerous others.

For example, both types of immigrants must show a degree of proficiency in the English language to naturalize. This is partially tested during the oral American history and civics test, which is meant to also gauge whether an immigrant has sufficient knowledge about how the government works and the country's history.

But it is not enough to just pass the civics and U.S. history test. In addition, the true test of English proficiency comes with the English test. There are certain exceptions, but, for most people, they must show they can understand English.

Once these criteria are met, applicants are faced with the Form N-400, the 21-page application for naturalization. Again, even the smallest mistake on the form could cost an immigrant the citizenship he or she has worked so hard to achieve.

Source: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, "Citizenship Through Naturalization," Accessed July 17, 2014

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