Becoming a Citizen
In the last fiscal year, 1,044,689 people completed the long and often arduous passage from residency status to full citizenship in the United States. On this weekend before the Fourth of July, we spotlight the process of naturalization, including sample questions from the quiz applicants take.
Steps To Naturalization
1. Application filed
INS officials check each application to insure requirements have been met; applicants must be at least 18 and must have been a legal resident for at least five years. Waivers are granted for children, spouses of citizens and veterans of U.S. armed forces.
2. Fingerprinting and FBI check
Applicant is rejected if there’s a record of certain crime convictions, including for murder or any drug violation (except possession of a small amount of marijuana.)
3. Interview and test
Applicant must show familiarity with English words “ordinary usage.” Civics and history test is administered. (To the right are sample questions issued by the INS.)
4. Application approved
If all requirements have been met, applicant is recommended for naturalization. Date of oath ceremony is set.
5. Oath Ceremony
The oath of allegiance begins: “I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state of sovereignty...”
California leads in naturalization
In the period from Oct. 1, 1996, to Sept. 30, 1997, there were 378,014 people--more than one-third of the national total--naturalized in California.
Percentage of citizens naturalized in California vs. other states fiscal 1996-1997:
All other states: 64%
Top 10 countries of origin fiscal 1996-1997
1. Mexico: 217,418
2. Cuba: 62,168
3. Vietnam: 47,625
4. Philippines: 45,210
5. Former Soviet Union: 36,265
6. El Salvador: 33,240
7. China: 30,656
8. India: 28,932
9. Dominican Republic: 27,293
10. Columbia: 26,115
1. What do the stripes on the flag mean?
2. What country did we fight during the Revolutionary War?
3. Who elects the president of the United States?
4. For how long do we elect the president?
5. What do we call a change to the Constitution?
6. What are the three branches of our government?
7. What are the duties of Congress?
8. How many senators are there in Congress?
9. For how long do we elect each senator?
10. For how long do we elect the representatives?
11. What is the Bill of Rights?
12. What is the capital of this state?
13. Who becomes president of the U.S. if the president and the vice-president should die?
14. What are the 49th and 50th states of the union?
15. How many terms can a president serve?
16. According to the Constitution, a person must meet certain requirements in order to be eligible to become president. Name one of these requirements.
17. Who selects the Supreme Court justices?
18. How many Supreme Court justices are there?
19. Why did the pilgrims come to America?
20. Who was the main writer of the Declaration of Independence?
21. When was the Declaration of Independence adopted?
22. Who wrote the “Star-Spangled Banner”?
23. What is the minimum voting age in the U.S.?
24. Who was the president during the Civil War?
25. What did the Emancipation Proclamation do?
26. What special group advises the president?
27. Which president is called the “Father of our Country”?
28. Who helped the pilgrims in America?
29. What is the name of the ship that brought the pilgrims to America?
30. What were the 13 original states called?
31. Who has the power to declare war?
32. In what year was the Constitution written?
33. In what month do we vote for the president?
34. What is the introduction to the Constitution called?
35. Name one right guaranteed by the first amendment.
36. Who is the Commander in Chief of U.S. armed forces?
37. In what month is the new president inaugurated?
38. How many times may a senator be re-elected?
39. How many times may a congressman be re-elected?
40. How many states are there in the U.S.?
1. They represent the original 13 states
3. The electoral college
4. Four years
6. Legislative, executive, and judiciary
7. To make laws
9. Six years
10. Two years
11. The first 10 amendments of the Constitution
13. Speaker of the House of Representatives
14. Alaska and Hawaii
16. Must be a natural-born citizen, must be at least 35 by the time he/she will serve, must have lived in the united states for at least 14 years
17. Appointed by the president
19. For religious freedom
20. Thomas Jefferson
21. July 4, 1776
22. Francis Scott Key
24. Abraham Lincoln
25. Freed many slaves
26. The Cabinet
27. George Washington
28. Native Americans
29. The Mayflower
34. The preamble
35. Freedom of: speech, press, religion, peaceable assembly, and requesting change of the government
36. The president
38. No limit
39. No limit
Source: U.S. Immigration & Naturalization Service; Researched by DAVID COLKER / Los Angeles Times