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The requirements for naturalization that need fuller explanation are discussed in more detail at a later point. The steps to become naturalized, however, are the same for all persons and are set out below.

Filing the Application - Fingerprints

The first step is to get an application and, except for children under 14 years of age, a fingerprint card from the nearest office of the Immigration and Naturalization Service or from a social service agency in the community. The application to be used is Form N-400, "Application for Naturalization."

The application, the fingerprint card, and the Biographic Information form if appropriate, which are furnished without charge, must be filled out according to the instructions and filed with the office of the Immigration and Naturalization Service with jurisdiction over the applicant's residence. Three unsigned photographs as described in the application must be submitted. A fee is required and must be submitted with the application. No currency should be sent by mail.

Citizenship of Applicant's Children

If a parent who is applying for naturalization expects to be naturalized before any of his or her children reaches age 18, it is likely that such children who are living in the United States will automatically become citizens. This would happen if the children's other parent already is a citizen, or is deceased, or if both parents are naturalized at the same time, or if the parents are legally separated and the parent being naturalized has the legal custody of the children, or if the parent being naturalized is the mother of the children and the children were born out of wedlock.

These children may obtain certificates of citizenship in their own names, showing that they became citizens on the same date that the parent was naturalized, by filing Form N-600, "Application for Certificate of Citizenship," in accordance with instructions on the form. The application must be filed after the naturalization of the parent(s). A fee is required and must be submitted with the application. No currency should be sent in the mail. The children involved who are over age 14 will appear before the naturalization examiner and must take the same oath of allegiance as is required of persons who naturalize.

Examination on the Application

After certain actions on the application have been completed by the Immigration and Naturalization Service, the applicant must appear before a naturalization examiner for examination on the application. The Immigration and Naturalization Service will advise the applicant when and where to appear for the examination. The applicant will be examined on the information submitted on the application for naturalization, and on his or her English literacy and knowledge of the form of government and history of the United States.

If the examiner finds that an applicant has not demonstrated eligibility for naturalization, the application will be denied and the applicant will be so notified. The applicant may request a .hearing on the denied application by filing Form N-336, "Request for Hearing on a Decision in Naturalization Proceedings Under Section 335 of the Act," according to instructions included on the form, and with the required fee.

Oath Ceremony

After the examination has been completed and the application approved, the applicant will be notified to appear at an oath ceremony where the applicant will be sworn in as a citizen of the United States. The applicant may be able to choose to be sworn in as a citizen by a Service officer in a Service-conducted ceremony or by a judge of a competent court in a court-conducted ceremony. In the event that the applicant wishes to apply for a change of name, the applicant will be required to appear at a court-conducted oath ceremony.

Sometimes an applicant for naturalization is prevented by sickness or physical disability from appearing before an examining officer. When this happens, it may be possible to make other arrangements so that the applicant will not have to travel to a Service office or to appear in court. Further information about what should be done by such a person to become naturalized can be obtained from the nearest office of the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

When the applicant appears at the oath ceremony, he or she takes an oath of allegiance to the United States. In doing so, he or she gives up allegiance to any foreign country and promises to support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States.

When a large number of persons become citizens in a ceremony, it may not be possible to issue certificates immediately showing that they have been granted citizenship. In such instances, the certificates of naturalization are mailed to them later, or other arrangements for subsequent delivery are made.
excerpted from Form N-17 (Rev 11/30/92) N
by Dept of Justice, Immigration and Naturalization Service
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