Gather your data
The citizenship application is a twenty-one-page form that asks for a lot of data. You need to gather that data before you fill out Form N-400. Check off every point before you fill out the form or go to see an attorney!
- your name, and any other names you have used in the past (like maiden names or second middle or last names that you don’t usually use in the U.S.
- your date of birth, height, weight , race, eye and hair color
- a list of all the trips you have taken outside the U.S. since becoming a permanent resident. Note the start an end dates of each trip, and all countries that you traveled to. (Your passports are probably the best place to get this information.)
- your green card number, and the date and place you were granted permanent residence (these are all on your green card)
- your current address and all your addresses during the last five years. Note the dates you lived at each address. If you are applying based on marriage to a US citizen, we need to know about any periods that the two of you have lived apart since you married.
- all your jobs during the last five years. Note your job title, each company’s name and addrress, and when you worked there
- if you are are now married, your date of marriage, and your current spouse’s full name, date of birth, social security number, and address.
- We need to know if your spouse is a U.S. citizen, permanent resident, or has no legal status here. If your spouse has a green card, note the A number. If he or she naturalized, get a copy of the certificate.
- if you or your current spouse married before, you need to note the name and immigration status (U.S. citizen, permanent resident, etc.) of each prior spouse, the marriage and termination dates of each marriages, and how the marriage ended (e.g., divorce or the prior spouse’s death).
- if you have children, each child’s name, current address, and date and country of birth. If your child has a green card, note the child’s green card number.
More complex stuff: take special care
These are areas that can trip up an application, leading to a denial or being put in removal proceedings in some cases. If any apply to you, we strongly recommend that you not apply for naturalization until after you obtain detailed advice from an attorney in your area.
- have you filed and paid your taxes on time for the last five years?
- how did you get your green card? Did circumstances change shortly after your got it? (Separation or divorce in a marriage case; changing jobs in a work case, left the ministry in a religious worker case, etc.) Be ready to explain and document the good reasons for any changes.
- were there in any problems with how you got your green card? Were you married when you said you were unmarried? Did you use fake experience letters in a work case? Did you get buy papers to get a green card in the agriculture program in the late 1980s?
- Have you been arrested or committed a crime, including drunken driving, since coming to the US? You will need to obtain a certified copy of the disposition of the charges from the court, even if you did not commit a crime or admit guilt, and even if the charges against you were nolled or dismissed.
- It is essential that you get the certified disposition record before speaking to us or filing your application. It is easy to misunderstand exactly how a case was resolved. In terms of what happened to you when you went to court, there is little difference between a dismissal, a dismissal with suspended sentence or a dismissal after admitting guilt and completing a program. However, for immigration law purposes the difference can be huge, resulting in some cases in an applicant being detained without bond and deported.
- have you been obliged to pay child support in the last five years? Have you ever fallen behind?
Does this seem like a lot of information? It is. Trust us when we tell you that you are far better off gathering it in advance so that your application will be complete and correct. Cutting corners and submitting an incomplete application and hoping to “fill in the gaps” later on can lead to problems: minor ones, like rejection of your filing or irritating your examiner; or major ones; like having your application denied and being put in removal proceedings.