I strongly recommend that you complete the application online rather than trying to fill it by hand (in that case it is best to use capital letters). Make sure that you save the file on your hard drive during the process so that you do not lose the data. Needless to say, it is better to organize your supporting documents before filling it, though, if you are missing something, you can always save and close the file, and then resume it when you have the information. So let us get started:
If you would rather first read the whole DIY Guide to Naturalization first before starting, please download this ebook from Amazon.
A#: Start off by writing your USCIS A-number in the top right corner. This should populate all the fields on each page. In case you attach additional papers, this number should be written on the top right. This is the number that will be on your permanent resident (green) card. It is basically your alien file number that the USCIS has created for anyone who files for immigration.
Part 1 Your Name: This is easy to complete. I have given an example below but make sure that you include your nicknames if you have been using them on any identification purposes. For example, if your name is Anthony and just your friends call you Tony, then there is no need to mention it, but if you have used it at work and a lot of people know you by this name, just write it down. It is harmless to mention it. So A, B, and C are pretty straightforward. Now do you want to legally change your name? Many immigrants like to change their name to a more American sounding name or others might want to change their name after marriage (which might not have been changed in the USCIS records). If you have any intentions of changing and/or updating your name, this is the easiest and the fastest way to do it. If you do not do it now, you will be running around in the American court system and it is a hassle. Changing at the time of naturalization is free and you do not have to do anything more than writing down your new name in the space provided.
Part 3 Information About You: Definitely straightforward answers. If the answers to H or I are yes, be prepared to click the appropriate box below.
Part 4 Address and Telephone Numbers: This is also easy to complete. I have still provided an example below:
Part 5 Information for Criminal Records Search: Before you can be naturalized, the USCIS with the help of several government agencies (the agencies that are involved is a secret but is believed to include ICE, FBI, and CIA) will search several databases to find if it finds a hit on your name. Unfortunately, even people with the cleanest record can sometimes get stuck in the security clearance phase because their name is similar to a known criminal or terrorist, but if you have done nothing wrong, there is nothing to fear. Eventually, your name will be cleared. This is where the fingerprints come very handy because they are unique to you. So if your background check takes longer than normal, just be patient. Simply provide the information as shown below. For your hair, choose your natural hair color, if you dye your hair.
Part 6 Information About Your Residence and Employment: Remember that you need to make sure that you meet the requirements about living in the state/district in which you are applying. This section not only provides the USCIS with information about where to look for your background but also about your eligibility to apply in a certain district. You must be ready to prove this through evidence like mortgage bills, bank statements, etc. Just provide the information and if you are not sure about the exact dates, it is okay to put estimated dates, as long as you are more or less correct. Do the same for your employer or school. If you are unemployed or a homemaker, write NA.
Part 7 Time Outside The United States: Basically, the USCIS has all the records of your arrivals since the green card was issued to you, because when you enter the country, the CBP officer swipes it. It is believed that through the airline data the USCIS also knows when you left. In any case, you should still keep a good record of your travel plans the day you become a green card holder, and you can also use your passport to develop the list. If not, try to search your travel profile on airline websites or Expedia to find exact travel dates. Occasionally, even credit card statements will indicate travel dates. In this section, the USCIS is trying to make sure that you have maintained strong ties to the United States by living here and not spending too much time in another country. If you have done so and your green card has not been invalidated for this reason, you will not be disqualified from naturalizing; you will simply need to wait till you meet the requirement. Basically, you cannot be out of the country for more than 30 months and have never been out of the country for a year at a time (if your job -- only certain jobs qualify -- requires extensive travel and you can provide evidence of that, you are good).
Part 8 Information About Your Marital History: This information is useful for a variety of reasons. The USCIS wants to make sure that you were properly divorced and or married and never broke the laws against polygamy. Plus for security reasons it wants to know to whom you were married and that is why marriage to criminals may not necessarily disqualify you but is important for the agencies to know. Obviously, whether or not you are using the 3-year provision, you need to provide complete detail on your current spouse and if she or he was married before and to whom. This section must include names of foreigners even if they were never in the United States or applied for any immigration benefits.
Part 9 Information About Your Children: This is pretty straightforward but remember that you need to include each and every child, even the ones who have died or those who do not live with you. So if you have been a legal parent to any child, that needs to be included in this list. In the location column you can add information like "dead" or give the address wherever she or he is.
Part 10 Additional Questions: The idea here is that you should be able to honestly answer all questions as NO. If not, you have a serious problem, and you need a good attorney. Many illegal immigrants who claimed to be American citizens to get benefits or just be able to work will not be able to naturalize themselves. Even registering to vote is a serious problem because basically you are claiming to be a citizen. So if you have ever even casually ticked off the US citizenship box, you will need to spend the rest of your life as a green card holder and cannot become a citizen. In answer to question about affiliations, include any group that has some meaningful existence. So even a church group should be included, but if you watch baseball each night with your friends and call it the "Baseball Fanatics," do not include it. Basically the USCIS wants to know if you have been associated with groups that maybe engaged in criminal activities or maybe anti-US in their mission. Similarly, the answers to questions 9-12 should also be NO for you; otherwise, talk to a good lawyer. I give an example below:
C Continuous Residence: As anyone knows nothing is worse than not paying Uncle Sam. So if you have not paid your taxes or filed them wrongly, fix the taxes with the help of an accountant and only then file for naturalization.
D Good Moral Character: This is a fuzzy one. The decision to approve or deny depends on the officer adjudicating your case. This is the place to honestly admit all the crimes (don't worry about speeding and parking tickets but if you were driving under the effect of alcohol, DUI as it is called, you need to include it). It is important to remember than unlike other sections, here you will include events from your whole life, even those outside the United States. Do not even try to misrepresent assuming that something that happened decades ago in a far off land may not be found. It may not even disqualify you but you will need to come clean, and unless it is something serious and in that case discuss this with a good attorney.
Again your answers to questions from 22 to 32 should also be no. If not, particularly if you have entered the United States illegally (for example using fake papers like passport or visa or green card) or were in deportation or became a beneficiary of DACA or DREAM Act, you really need to discuss this with an attorney. These problems may not automatically disqualify you from naturalization but can present problems. For the same reasons, if you did not register with Selective Service and were supposed, you better have a story to tell.
H Oath Requirements: I am hoping that if you are excited about naturalization, you will answer Yes to questions 34-39.
Finally complete part 11 and 12, if needed.
Leave part 13 and 14 as it is. When you go for your naturalization interview, the officer will ask you to sign it there.