- Lawful Permanent Resident status for at least five years. However, a naturalization application (N-400) can be submitted 90 days prior to the fifth year residency anniversary.
- Be at least 18 years old.
- Live in the state where the N-400 will be filed for at least three months (90 days) prior to applying.
- Be physically present in the United States at least 30 months out of the five years of residency immediately prior to filing the N-400.
- Continuously be present in the United States between the time filing the N-400 and the granting of U.S. citizenship.
- English requirements: to be able to read, write, and speak English.
- U. S. History and Civics: to be able to understand and have basic knowledge of U.S. history and its government.
- Be a person of good moral character, who believes in the U.S. Constitution, and is prepared to defend it in times of war and conflict.
Requirements for Spouses of U.S. Citizens
All General Requirements also apply except for the following:
- Lawful permanent resident status for at least three years, if spouse received lawful permanent residence by virtue of marriage to a U.S. citizen, immediately prior to filing the N-400.
- Must still be married to and residing with the U.S. citizen at time of filing the N-400.
- Be physically present in the U.S. at least 18 months out of the three years immediately prior to filing the N-400.
Note: Active members and veterans of the military may apply for U.S. citizenship under Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) Sections 328 and 329. Additionally, Section 329A provides for posthumous naturalization for a service member who had died while in active duty. Below is some pertinent information that may assist a member of the military. If more information is needed, please contact an Immigration Attorney or the designated “POC” (Point of Contact) in the member’s military installation.
Members of the Military and their Families
- Members of the military and their families have special consideration under the law when applying for naturalization. There are several requirements under this category, therefore, it is suggested that the applicant from the military contact the designated “POC.”
Veterans of the Military during Periods of Hostilities
A veteran of the U.S. armed forces is eligible to apply for naturalization if s/he served for even one day during designated periods of hostilities pursuant to Section 329 of the INA.
- Served honorably in active-duty status in the military or the Reserve.
- Lawfully Permanent Resident at any time after enlistment or induction into the military or reserve, or was physically present in the U. S. or certain territories at any time of enlistment or induction even if not admitted as a lawful permanent resident.
- Meet all the other General Requirements stated above except for the 18 years old age requirement.
- The designated period of hostilities are issued by the President of the U.S.
- April 6, 1917 to November 11, 1918
- September 1, 1939 to December 31, 1946
- June 25, 1950 to July 1, 1955
- February 28, 1961 to October 15, 1978
- August 2, 1990 to April 11, 1991
- September 11, 2001 until the present
Exceptions to the English Language and Civics Requirement
Certain naturalization applicants are exempt from the English language requirement.
- Applicants who are 50 years old and above when they file the N-400 and who have lived in the U.S. as lawful permanent residents for at least 20 years.
- Applicants who are 55 years old and above when they file the N-400 and who have lived in the U.S. as lawful permanent residents for at least 15 years.
These exceptions do not apply to the U.S. government (civics) test. However, if the applicants’ English language skill is insufficient to conduct the civics examination in English, they may be able to take it in their native language.
- Applicants, who are 65 years and above who have been lawful permanent residents for at least 20 years when they file the N-400, will be given special consideration when taking the civics examination.
Medical Disability Waiver to the English Language and Civics Requirements
Naturalization applicants who have a physical or developmental disability or a mental impairment may qualify for a waiver to the English language or Civics requirement. The waiver, Form N-648, Medical Certification for Disability Exceptions, must be completed by a licensed medical or osteopathic physician, or a licensed clinical psychologist. The physician will have to certify in the Form N-648 that there is a nexus between the applicant’s disability or impairment and the inability to meet the English language and Civics requirements
Physical and Mental Disability Accommodations
The Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Section 504, mandates that the USCIS provide accommodations for naturalization applicants with physical or mental disabilities. There is a section in the N-400 where applicants can designate what kind of physical and mental disability they have and what accommodations they require.
Child Citizenship Act of 2000
Certain biological and adopted children of U.S. citizens who are born outside of the United States can acquire U.S. citizenship automatically under the Child Citizenship Act of 2000. These children will automatically be granted U.S. citizenship upon entry or admission into the U.S. as lawful permanent residents. The effective date of the act was February 27, 2001, therefore, children who are 17 years old and below, who meet the requirements from that date and on forward, automatically become U.S. citizens.
- At least one U.S. citizen parent who is a citizen by birth or naturalization;
- Be 17 years old and below.
- The child lives under the physical and legal custody of the U.S. citizen parent.
- If the child is adopted, the adoption must be full and final.
- Admitted first as a lawful permanent resident.
Note: A child who acquires U.S. citizenship does not need to apply for a Certificate of Citizenship. The parent can apply for the child’s U.S. passport with the Department of State and submit the required documents evidencing eligibility for acquisition. However, if the parent wants a Certificate of Citizenship, the parent can file an N-600, Application for Certificate of Citizenship, for biological children, and N-643, Application for Certificate of Citizenship in Behalf of an Adopted Child, to the USCIS.
Other Provisions of the Child Citizenship Act of 2000
Biological or adopted children of U.S. citizens who are born and reside outside of the United States and who do not meet the requirements stated above can submit an N-600 to the USCIS if the following requirements are met:
- At least one of the child’s parent is a U.S. citizen by birth or naturalization.
- The U.S. citizen parent was physically present in the U.S. for a total of at least five years, and at least two years within those five years was when the parent was 15 years old or older.
- If the U.S. citizen parent cannot meet this requirement, one of the child’s U.S. citizen grandparents, if he/she meets the physical presence requirement stated above, can qualify the child for U.S. citizenship.
- The child is 17 years old and below.
- The child lives outside of the United States under the physical and legal custody of the U.S. citizen parent.
- The child must be lawfully admitted as a lawful permanent resident of the U.S.
Note: Applying for naturalization can be a complicated process and, therefore, it is advisable to contact an Immigration Attorney to ensure a higher probability of success in the naturalization process.