UPDATE: Major Improvements to Naturalization, Including Faster N400 Processing
The arrival of the Biden Administration has ushered in some very good news for the 40 million foreign-born individuals who live in the United States today. Among the many changes taking place in the new administration, President Biden signed an executive order on February 2, 2021 that calls for major improvements to the naturalization process in the United States.
As you may know, “naturalization” is the process by which a person becomes a U.S. citizen, and this executive order is wonderful news for anyone seeking naturalization in the U.S. Titled Executive Order on Restoring Faith in Our Legal Immigration Systems and Strengthening Integration and Inclusion Efforts for New Americans, President Biden and his administration are taking bold and sweeping steps to ensure that our laws and policies encourage full participation by immigrants, including refugees, in our civil life; that immigration processes and other benefits are delivered effectively and efficiently; and that the Federal Government eliminates sources of fear and other barriers that prevent immigrants from accessing government services available to them.
In this article, we are going to discuss this refreshing new approach to immigration in the United States, which values inclusion over exclusion and seeks to make the services provided by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) more effective. In particular, we are going to focus on that part of President Biden’s executive order that calls on USCIS to make the naturalization process easier and more efficient for applicants.
If, after reading this article, you have more questions about naturalization and the Form N-400 naturalization application, then we invite you to contact us at Ashoori Law. Feel free to call us at +1-818-741-1117 or you may request a free consultation by clicking this link.
Primer on the Naturalization Process
If you have had your green card for a number of years and you are thinking about applying to become a U.S. citizen, then it is important to know that there are a series of steps you need to take in the naturalization process. Briefly stated, those steps are:
- Confirm your citizenship eligibility (generally, you must be 18 years old or older, and have a green card for at least five years);
- Complete and submit a Form N-400, the naturalization application;
- Attend a biometrics appointment, to provide photos and fingerprints;
- Complete a naturalization interview, including taking a civics and English exam; and
- Take the Oath of Allegiance in an oath ceremony.
The new Biden executive order demonstrates that President Biden will take aggressive action to improve the naturalization process and make it easier for applicants.
The Biden Administration’s Bold Steps to Improve the Naturalization Process
President Biden’s executive order is marvelous news for those seeking naturalization because it outlines massive improvements to the naturalization process in order to make it faster and easier for permanent residents looking to become citizens. In fact, the executive order itself expressly states that it is the policy of the United States to promote naturalization.
Moreover, the Biden administration will develop a plan in the next two months to make the policy of promoting naturalization a reality for immigrants in this country. The plan should have action items that the government will take to:
(i) eliminate barriers in and otherwise improve the existing naturalization process, including by conducting a comprehensive review of that process with particular emphasis on the N-400 application, fingerprinting, background and security checks, interviews, civics and English language tests, and the oath of allegiance;
(ii) substantially reduce processing times with the current naturalization process;
(iii) make the naturalization process more accessible to all eligible individuals, including through a potential reduction of the naturalization fee and restoration of the fee waiver process;
(iv) facilitate naturalization for eligible candidates born abroad and members of the military, in consultation with the Department of Defense; and
(v) review policies and practices regarding denaturalization and passport revocation to ensure that these authorities are not used excessively or inappropriately.
As you can see, the Biden Administration has specific goals that will significantly help those seeking to become citizens, like speeding up the process and reducing fees. In addition, the executive order calls for implementation of the improvements to take effect within six months.
In short, President Biden’s plan to vastly improve the naturalization process for immigrants in the United States is ambitious and will be implemented quickly. That is great news indeed.
What About the Civics Exam Changes?
As you read this article, you are likely asking yourself: Will the previous administration’s changes to the civics exam be reversed by the Biden Administration? The answer to that question is, at this point, unclear. President Biden’s executive order clearly seeks to eliminate barriers to the naturalization process, which should include applicant-friendly improvements and changes to the civics exam. Yet, the executive order did not specify whether it will undo the previous administration’s civics exam changes.
All evidence indicates that the Biden Administration has made a clear commitment to improving immigration services for the 40 million foreign-born people in the United States, and for those who seek to come to our shores.
My name is Michael Ashoori and I'm a U.S. immigration lawyer and the founder of Ashoori Law. As an immigration lawyer, I help families, professionals, investors, and entrepreneurs get visas, green cards, and citizenship to the United States. If you have any questions, feel free to request a free consultation by clicking this link.
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Michael Ashoori, Esq.
U.S. Immigration Lawyer
I’m a U.S. immigration lawyer and I help families, professionals, investors, and entrepreneurs get visas, green cards, and citizenship to the United States.
Since starting my law firm, I’ve helped hundreds of people from all over the world with their immigration needs. I’m very passionate, hard-working, and committed to my clients.
Got a question? Send me an email.