Naturalization Summary

Naturalization is the process by which a lawful permanent resident applies for and is granted U.S. citizenship. U.S. citizens have many benefits and responsibilities: they can vote in federal elections, serve on a jury, travel with a U.S. passport and bring family members to the United States. Also, once a person is a U.S. citizen, they do not lose that citizenship by spending long periods of time outside the United States (as can happen with permanent residents).

The basic naturalization requirements are listed below. However, it is always a good idea to meet with an immigration attorney before filing a naturalization application. This is especially true if you have spent long periods of time outside the United States, have any arrests or criminal matters, or think you might be unable to meet any of these requirements.

Naturalization applicants must:

  • be at least 18 years old
  • be a lawful permanent resident for at least 5 years (3 years if you are married to and living with a U.S. citizen)
  • have been physically present in the U.S. for at least half of that period
  • have had continuous residence in the U.S. for at least half that period
  • have resided for at least 3 months in the state where you file your naturalization application
  • be able to read, write and speak basic English
  • be able to pass the U.S. history and civics test
  • be willing to take the Oath of Allegiance
  • have good moral character

Good moral character for naturalization purposes means that you have not done anything that offends the accepted moral character standards of the community where you reside. It is a vague term but the government has a list of crimes and conduct that would mean you do not meet the good moral character requirement.

Categories: Immigration News