Naturalization is the process by which U.S. citizenship is granted to a foreign citizen or national after he or she fulfills the necessary qualifications.
U.S. Citizenship may be obtained through Permanent Residency or through marriage. Some of the qualifications are the same, but there are some varying requirements depending on which process you pursue.
Qualifications for U.S. Citizenship
General Qualifications for Naturalization
- Be 18 or older;
- Have lived within the state, or USCIS district with jurisdiction over the applicant’s place of residence, for at least three months prior to the date of filing the application;
- Reside continuously within the United States from the date of application for naturalization up to the time of naturalization;
- Be able to read, write, and speak English and have knowledge and an understanding of U.S. history and government (civics); and
- Be a person of good moral character, attached to the principles of the Constitution of the United States, and well-disposed to the good order and happiness of the United States during all relevant periods under the law
Additional Qualifications for Naturalization through Marriage
- Be a permanent resident (green card holder) for at least three years immediately preceding the date of filing the Application for Naturalization;
- Have been living in martial union with the U.S. citizen spouse during the three years immediately preceding the date of filing the application and up until the examination on the application; and
- Have continuous residence in the U.S. as a lawful permanent resident for at least three years immediately preceding the date of filing the application with a physical presence in the U.S. for at least 18 months out of the three years
Additional Qualifications for Naturalization through Permanent Residency
- Be a green card holder for at least five years immediately preceding the date of filing the Application for Naturalization; and
- Have continuous residence in the U.S. as a green card holder for at least five years immediately preceding the date of filing with a physical presence in the U.S. for at least 30 months out of the five years
Process for U.S. Citizenship
To apply for naturalization, you must first file Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, and meet the qualifications for citizenship through permanent residency.
After filing Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, you will be called to attend an interview with USCIS. Once your application has been approved, you will be sworn in as a citizen of the United States at a formal naturalization ceremony.