Obtaining U.S. Citizenship.

Naturalization is the process by which U.S. citizenship is granted to a foreign citizen or national after he or she fulfills the requirements established by Congress in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

To be eligible for naturalization in the United States, you must meet certain requirements. First, you must be at least 18 years of age. You'll also need to have been admitted lawfully into the U-S as a permanent resident. You're required to have lived continuously in the US for at least five years, staying in one state or district for at least three months. Additionally, you must show that you've been good moral character for the required period. Several actions can exclude you from good moral character, such as committing certain crimes, smuggling illegal aliens, habitual drunkenness, polygamy, and more. To apply for naturalization, you'll need to be able to read, write, speak, and understand words in English as well as show knowledge of the basics of history and the government of the US. Some people are exempt from the language and history requirements, and eligible for exclusions and waivers. You'll be asked to take an oath of allegiance, where you promise to support the Constitution and obey the laws of the US, renounce any foreign allegiance or title, and be ready to bear arms for the armed forces of the US if it's required.

There are many ways to obtain citizenship in the United States. Citizenship is automatically granted if the individual was born in the US or its possessions, or if the individual was born outside the United States to citizen parents. Most individuals seeking citizenship are interested in naturalization. The basic requirement of naturalization is that the applicant must have been a continuous lawful permanent resident of the United States for five or more years, or have been married to a permanent resident for more than three years and be currently married to that spouse. An absence from the US for one year or more without advance approval from BCIS breaks the continuity of five years. Those over fifty years of age must have been a lawful permanent resident for more than 20 years. Often individuals who are naturalized can provide derivative citizenship to their minor children. The first step is to submit a complete and accurate application form with all the necessary attachments and requirements. Next, prepare for a multiple choice exam about US history and the English language. Third, prepare for your citizenship interview with an officer of the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services, and finally, wait for approval from BCIS and attend your naturalization ceremony.

More Information:

  • Citizenship Through Naturalization (USCIS)
  • How to Apply for U.S. Citizenship (
  • U.S. Citizenship Laws and Policy (U.S. Department of State)