Who Is Eligible to Become a Naturalized U.S. Citizen


Did you know that if you are a permanent resident in the United States, you might be qualified to apply for United States citizenship? Permanent residents, or Green Card holders, who wish to apply for citizenship must present an application for citizenship (Form N-400, Application for Naturalization) to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (U.S.C.I.S.) and must meet certain prerequisites.

Prerequisites a permanent resident must meet to become a U.S. Citizen include:

You Must Have Been A Permanent Resident For Five Years.

There are a few exclusions to the five-year rule (also known as the required years of permanent residence), such as individuals who:

  • are married to and living with a U.S. Citizen for three years;
  • S. military members;
  • spouse (or widows/widowers) of U.S. military;
  • spouse of U.S. Citizen in certain overseas jobs;
  • victims of spousal abuse (whether still married to, divorced, or separated from the U.S. Citizen); or
  • refugees or political asylees.

You should also submit your application for U.S. Citizenship 90 days prior to the expiration of your permanent residency status. Otherwise, you will need to renew your green card. This is because the naturalization process can be lengthy, and you do not want your current status to expire and make you deportable.

Physically and Continuously Present In The United States.

In addition to having your green card (or permanent resident status) for 5 years, you must also have been physically present in the U.S. for at least half of that time. So, for at least two and a half years of your residency, you cannot leave the United States.

You must also have been continuously present in the United States. You cannot leave the U.S. for six months or more if you wish to obtain U.S. Citizenship. Extended stays outside of the U.S. can make it appear that you have abandoned your U.S. residency for another home in another country – this not only jeopardized your chances for citizenship but can also complicate matters in keeping your permanent residency status.

One last bit on where you have resided – before applying for U.S. Citizenship, you must be living in the same state for the last three months.

Meet The Age Requirements

Applicants for U.S. Naturalization must be at least 18 years old at the time of filing their application. Individuals under the age of 18 can obtain U.S. Citizenship through their parents.

Have “Good Moral Character”

This means that during your time in the U.S., and as a permanent resident in particular, you have been an upstanding member of society – including paying taxes, staying on top of child support or spousal support requirements, and not committing a crime (even a minor one).

You Should Show Understanding Of English, U.S. History, And The U.S. Government

You should have a basic capacity to talk, read, and compose English in order to qualify for United States Citizenship. The test will be administered orally during your interview with the U.S.C.I.S. where you will be required to select the appropriate response about basic U.S. History or Civics. Answering a minimum of six questions out of ten correctly is required to pass. A list of possible questions is provided to you and there are several free studying materials available online.

You Will Have To Swear Allegiance To The United States

Upon a satisfactory completion of your interview and testing, you will be invited to attend a swearing in ceremony where you will be prompted to take an Oath of Allegiance.

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