POCATELLO, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK) - Becoming a naturalized citizen is not as easy as it looks. In fact, it can actually be a long and complicated process, making it nearly impossible for many people seeking citizenship. The entire process can take between 5 to 10 years to fully complete, not to mention thousands of dollars in application fees.
To begin, you need to have a Permanent Resident Card, otherwise known as Green Card, for at least 5 years, or for at least 3 if you’re filling as the spouse of a U.S. citizen. However, if you apply for naturalization less than six months before your Permanent Resident Card expires, or do not apply for naturalization until your card has already expired, you must renew your card.
There is, however, other ways to apply for naturalization prior to receiving your new Green Card, but this requires the individual to submit a photocopy of the receipt of an I-90 Form and an application to replace the permanent resident card.
Each step of the naturalization process takes time for review. In some cases, it can take decades depending on where an individuals country of origin. Esperanza Granado, an immigration lawyer in Pocatello, says, "someone who wants to petition their brother or sister from Mexico. The waiting period for that right now is about two decades." But, that’s not all. An eligibility test is required.
An individual seeking citizenship must be able to read, write, and speak basic English, have a “good moral character,” a personal interview and a U.S. Naturalization Test. A test which has over 100 questions on various aspects of the U.S. history and civics. Many government websites have sample questions, but we've provided an online test as an example.