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Concepts in Naturalization

May 4, 2015

Concepts in the Naturalization Application

Recently, USCIS put out a publication about key concepts in the N-400 – the form used to apply for naturalization. Aimed at those teaching citizenship, it has some great information for practitioners or anyone working across cultures or working with non-native English speakers. For example, one of the sections discusses naming conventions. Not all cultures share U.S. naming conventions. For example, not all cultures pass what we would call the father’s last name to the child. In some cultures, both the maternal and paternal family name are given. In some cultures, the paternal first name is passed to the child.

Accuracy when completing the N-400 (or any immigration form) is absolutely critical. Understanding naming conventions is necessary to make sure the answers are complete and accurate. This issue also touches on another important concept in immigration applications. The concept of family relationships is also very important to these forms. In some cultures, words for various family members may differ depending on birth position or side of the family. Some family labels may not be easily translated into English or vice versa. How is one to know that when the form asks for information about children on is to provide information about all children: sons, daughters, adopted, deceased, step, born out of wedlock, born in a different union, and born outside the United States? Failure to provide all of that information can lead to difficulties with the application or with future applications.

A great quick read – and a good resource.

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