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CNN Today

Ask CNN: What Does It Take to Become a U.S. Citizen?

Aired January 23, 2001 - 2:50 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NAYLA INAYAT, VENEZUELA: Hi. My name is Nayla Inayat. I'm from Venezuela, and my question is, what does it take to become a U.S. citizen?

GERRI RATLIFF GRADOWSKI, SENIOR OFFICIAL, IMMIGRATION & NATURALIZATION SERVICE: That is a really good question. Over the last two years, almost 2 million people have become U.S. citizen, which we call naturalizing. In fact, INS has developed a guide to naturalization that we put on our Web site.

Most people naturalize once they've been a legal permanent resident for at least five years, they've been in the United States for most of the past five years, and they're at least 18 years old.

Once they've applied, they will get fingerprinted and then they will have an interview with an INS officer who will determine whether they have what we call "good moral character" and if they sufficiently understand U.S. civics information and the English language.

Then after they finish the interview, they're still not a citizen until they've taken the oath of allegiance to the United States.

Making a decision to become a citizen is one of the most important decisions a person can make. Our naturalized citizens have helped enrich our communities and in the process have strengthened our nation.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com

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