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June 7, 2021

Business

What is Naturalization? A Complete Overview of U.S.A. Citizenship

Are you considering becoming a citizen of the United States of America? If so, you need to take action today. Applying to become a citizen of this country takes over a year and can cost a pretty penny. So start by applying for a green card and make sure you are saving money so that you can get started on your new life in a new country. A new beginning is closer than you might think.

Continue reading to learn what you need to know about the process for U.S. Citizenship.

How to Become a Citizen

Naturalization is the process that immigrants must go through to become U.S. citizens. The process is dependent on immigrant eligibility and can take between 16 and 22 months to get through all the steps.

Green card holders are able to apply for naturalization based on:

  • The length of time they’ve held a green card
  • The length of time they’ve lived in the U.S.
  • Whether they served in the military or not

Before you can begin your Application for Naturalization, you have to be a permanent resident/green card holder. So, What Is A Green Card and How to Get One? Check out this guide for more information.

Once you have all of that figured out, the steps to becoming an American Citizen is rather straightforward.

Costs of Citizenship

The naturalization process costs $725. This is a $640 processing fee along with the $85 fee for biometrics. The entire amount is waived for military personnel. The cost of biometrics gets waived for applicants 75 years and older. Low-income individuals may get the fees reduced or even waived completely.

Applying for Naturalization

The first step involves filing the Application for Naturalization (Form N-400) and paying the filing fee. Approximately one month after filing the application, the second step occurs. You will attend your Biometrics Appointment where the USCIS will have your fingerprinting done.

The third step involves the Citizenship Interview and Exam. The two events will occur simultaneously about 14 months after the application is submitted. The interview is meant to verify that all of the information on the application is correct. 

The exam consists of two parts. The first is the English Language Test where your reading, writing, and speaking abilities get tested. The second part focuses on Civics where your knowledge of U.S. history and the government is tested. After you take the exam, you will get a letter in the mail stating whether you’ve passed or failed.

The final step, once you’ve passed the testing stage, is to attend a ceremony where you pledge your allegiance to the United States. At the ceremony, you will turn in your green card and receive your Certificate of Naturalization. Once complete, you are an American citizen.

Are You Ready to Become an American Citizen?

The sooner you have a U.S. citizenship status, the sooner you will be able to reap the rewards of being an American citizen. Once you are a citizen, you can no longer be deported, you can apply for a passport, and you can sponsor a relative’s green card. 

If you found this post to be helpful, make sure to check out our other articles about travel, law, and finance.

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Home Improvement

What Is Home Equity? A New Homeowner’s Guide

Home equity: everyone has heard the term, but how many people actually understand what it is? If you’ve bought a home, you’ve heard the word. But what is home equity?

In simple terms, home equity refers to the stake you own in your home versus what your lender owns. 

Let’s explore the basics of home equity and get a better understanding. 

What Is Home Equity?

One of the biggest assets a homeowner has is their home equity. Home equity is the part of your home you’ve paid off. It’s the part of your home that you own, versus the part of your home you still owe money on.  

How Is Home Equity Calculated?

You can calculate your home’s equity based on current market value. Contact a real estate agent to get the full market value of your home.

Take that figure and subtract the amount you owe on your mortgage, plus any other home debt. What remains is the equity you have in your home. 

How Do I Build Home Equity?

Home equity builds over time; as you pay off your home loan, your equity increases. There are a few other ways you can build your home equity. Making mortgage payments increases your equity.

Paying more toward your principal each month decreases your home loan faster. Making a larger than normal down payment (20% is the average down payment amount) will boost your home equity. 

Home improvements can also add equity to your home. Renovations will increase the market value of your home, which in turn increases your equity. 

How Can I Use Home Equity?

The most common way to use equity is as a down payment toward a new home. When you sell your home and buy a new one, the home equity you have returns to you at closing. You can then use that money toward a down payment on your new home. 

Another way to use your home’s equity is by getting a home equity loan or a home equity line of credit (HELOC.)

How Do I Get a Home Equity Loan?

Many financial institutions can help you get a home equity loan. Most banks require a solid credit score.

If your credit score is less than perfect, a credit repair company can help you get good credit. Whether you need to build or repair your credit, they can help you reach your credit goals.

Should I Get a Home Equity Loan?

Now that your question, “What is home equity?” is answered, let’s talk about whether getting a home equity loan is a good decision. There are many reasons why people choose to borrow against their home’s equity.

Taking out a home equity loan may be a smart choice for renovating your home. Home equity loans often come with lower interest rates and tax benefits. 

Before taking out an equity loan, make sure you can make your payments on time. Failure to pay can result in the foreclosure of your home. 

Home equity loans aren’t a great option for everyone. Contact a bank to see if you’re a good candidate to benefit from one.

You can find other great homeownership advice on our website in our “Real Estate” section. 

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