Naturalization and U.S. Citizenship Vocabulary

To make your application for U.S. citizenship a little easier, you should try to familiarize yourself with key terms and basic information about the naturalization process.

The road to citizenship is not an easy one and is filled with many forms and terms that are not always easy to understand. To make the process a little easier, you should try to familiarize yourself with key terms and basic information about the process.

This list contains some basic information about words you are likely to run across as you prepare your naturalization application.

Procedural Terms

Biometric fee: The word biometric refers to the fingerprinting portion of the procedure. Your fingerprints will have to be taken and sent to the FBI so that they may start your background check. USCIS charges a fee for fingerprint processing.

Background Check: An investigation of your criminal and financial records. The investigation will be conducted by the FBI and the findings will be added to your application materials.

Civics Test: A test offered to you during your interview. You will be asked ten questions (from a possible 100 questions) to test your knowledge of United States history and rights of citizens.

Oath of Allegiance: A formal oath to maintain loyalty, defend the country, and uphold the constitution. The promise is made at the naturalization ceremony and must be made before you become a U.S. citizen.

Selective Service: To become a citizen, male applicants should have registered for the Selective Service between the ages of 18 and 25. You will only be registering for the possibility to serve in the military, you are not required to actually serve in the military.

Jus Soli citizenship: Citizenship gained from being born in the United States.

Jus Sanguine citizenship: Citizenship granted to a person because of their parents’ citizenship and residency under certain circumstances. See “Who is already a citizen?

Certificates and Forms

Certificate of Citizenship: Document that proves your citizenship in the United States.

Certificate of Naturalization: Document that proves you have completed the naturalization process and have obtained citizenship.

Form I-485: Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status is used apply for permanent stay in the United States. If you currently have temporary stay through a visa, then you may file this form to adjust your status from temporary to permanent stay.

Form M-476: A Guide to Naturalization that contains information on the naturalization process and requirements, along an overview of the benefits of being naturalized. This form should be the first thing you look at if you are interested in the naturalization process.

Form N-336: The Request for a Hearing on a Decision in Naturalization Proceedings should be used if your application was denied by the USCIS but you would still like to pursue citizenship.

Form N-400: The Application for Naturalization is the first form you file to begin the naturalization process.

Form N-445: The Notice of Naturalization Oath Ceremony is one of the last steps of the naturalization process. USCIS will send you the form as an invitation to the Oath Ceremony but you also must fill it out and return it with any updated information.

Form N-565: The Application for Replacement Naturalization/Citizenship Document is used when you have misplaced your Naturalization/Citizenship Certificate.

Form N-600: The Certificate of Citizenship is an application requesting this certificate as documentation of your permanent residency in the United States.

Form N-648: The Medical Certification for Disability Exceptions is for people seeking an exemption from the English reading and writing and Civics tests because of a physical or mental disability.

Form N-652: Notice of Examination Results is a form that USCIS provides you that contain the results of your naturalization interview.

Other Common Terms

Permanent Resident Card:  Card allows you to reside permanently in the United States and is also known as a Green Card.

DHS: The Department of Homeland Security is the governmental agency that heads USCIS and is involved in the facilitation of the naturalization process. You may be required to send some documents directly to this department.

USCIS: The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services is a lower agency under the DHS that facilitates the naturalization and citizenship process along with other immigration matters.

FBI: The Federal Bureau of Investigation will conduct background checks on all applicants.

Asylum: Permission to reside in the United States for protection purposes.

Immigration Vocabulary

These definitions and explanations are helpful as you begin to research the U.S. citizenship process. As you become familiar with the process and the forms you may still find new information or vocabulary that is unusual. The list above isn’t a comprehensive list, but we hope it gets you started.

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