Naturalization Requirements: The 9 Requirements to Become a U.S. Citizen

Naturalization Requirements

The process of naturalization allows permanent residents (green card holders) to receive U.S. citizenship.

 

In this guide, I will discuss the 9 main naturalization requirements.

 

If you have any questions about the naturalization process or if you are looking for a US immigration lawyer to assist you, you can contact me directly at Michael@AshooriLaw.com. My team and I would be happy to help.

 

Overview:

 

1. Introduction to the Naturalization Process

 

2. Breakdown of the 9 Naturalization Requirements

 

  • Be at least 18 years old

 

  • Be a permanent resident for at least 5 (or 3 years in some cases)

 

  • Have resided for 3 months in current resident state or USCIS district

 

  • Have residence for five continuous years in the United States

 

  • Have been physically present in the US for 30 months of the previous 5 years

 

  • Be able to read, write, and speak basic English

 

  • Have a basic understanding of US government and history

 

  • Have good moral character

 

  • Demonstrate respect for the principles and ideals of the US Constitution

 

3. Conclusion

 

1. Introduction to the Naturalization Process

 

The process of naturalization allows foreign nationals to receive US citizenship. If you have met all requirements discussed in this guide, you can submit Form N-400, Application for Naturalization. Upon submitting, you must attend a biometrics appointment where your fingerprint and photo will be taken.

 

You will also have an interview with USCIS. Here, USCIS will determine if you have met all the requirements to become a US citizen. Finally, if you are approved, you will take an Oath of Allegiance at a naturalization ceremony where you will officially become a US citizen. US citizens have many rights and responsibilities, which means there are several requirements to be approved for naturalization. These requirements will be discussed in further detail below.

 

2. Breakdown of the 9 Main Naturalization Requirements

 

In order to be naturalized as a US citizen, there are nine main requirements:

 

  • You must be at least 18 years of age when you submit your Form N-400

 

  • You must have been a permanent resident for at least 5 years (or 3 years in some cases)

 

  • You must have resided for at least 3 months in the applicable state or USCIS district

 

  • You must have had resided for at least 5 continuous years in the United States

 

  • You must have been physically present in the US for at least 30 months in the previous five years

 

  • You must be able to read, write, and speak basic English

 

  • You must have a basic understanding of US government and history

 

  • You must have good moral character

 

  • You must demonstrate respect for the principles and ideals of the US Constitution

 

These requirements were established by Congress in the Immigration and Nationality Act. Each will be discussed in more detail below.

 

Requirement 1. Be at least 18 years old

 

This first requirement to qualify for naturalization is that you must be at least 18 years old when you file your N-400. However, permanent resident minor children will automatically receive US citizenship when his/her parent completes the naturalization process.

 

Requirement 2. Be a permanent resident for at least 5 years

 

The second requirement to qualify for naturalization is that you must have been a permanent resident (green card holder) for at least 5 years. You may submit your Form N-400 to USCIS 90 days before your 5-year green card anniversary.

 

There are some exceptions to this rule:

 

First, if you began your time in the US as a conditional resident, the two years spent in this status will count toward this 5-year requirement as long as you successfully became a permanent resident following your conditional resident period. Therefore, in this situation, spending two years as a conditional resident and 3 years as a permanent would be sufficient to satisfy this requirement.

 

Second, if you obtained your residency through marriage to a US Citizen or VAWA, you will only need to wait 3 years to apply for naturalization. You will need to remain married to your US citizen spouse until you are formally sworn in as a US citizen.

 

Additionally, if you received your green card through marriage and were in an abusive relationship, you can apply to receive US citizenship after 3 years. This law was made to ensure that people do not remain in abusive marriages in order to qualify for faster naturalization.

 

Requirement 3. Have resided for 3 months in the applicable state or USCIS district

 

The third requirement for naturalization is that you must have residence in the state (jurisdiction of the USCIS Center) to which you are applying for at least 3 months prior to filing. Please be aware that some USCIS centers have jurisdiction over multiple states and some states have multiple USCIS centers. If you spent at least 3 months in one location and then left the United States for a period of no longer than 1 year before returning to that same residence, you will be considered to have satisfied this requirement. However, if you move to a new residence following this time abroad, you will be required to spend at least 3 months in this new residence to meet this requirement.

 

There are some situations that should be noted as exceptions:

 

First, if you are a US soldier who served for more than one year, you can file at the location where you spent the previous 3 months prior to filing, in the location where your spouse and/or minor children live, or at the location noted in your military personnel file.

 

Second, students attending an institution in a different jurisdiction than their home residence may apply for naturalization at the USCIS center with jurisdiction over the institution or, provided their parents continue to provide financial support to them, at their home residence.

 

If you have residence in more than one state, the residence where you pay taxes will be considered your residence for your naturalization application.

 

Requirement 4. Have residence for five continuous years in the United States

 

The fourth requirement for naturalization is that you must have resided for five continuous years in the United States. This means that you must have maintained a residence, or a “permanent dwelling place” in the United States for the last five years. If you have not maintained a residence for a period of time longer than six months in the United States, during the previous 5 years, you will be considered to not have met this requirement.

 

Thus, you should not have any break in your residence longer than six months in the previous 5 years if you wish to apply for naturalization. Note that having a permanent resident card is not sufficient to meet this requirement. You must be able to prove that you actually took up permanent residence in the United States and did not only commute from a foreign country.

 

Some exceptions to this rule may apply. If you are able to show that during the break in maintaining a US residence, your immediate family continued to live in the United States, you continued to work in the United States and did not accept foreign employment and/or you continued to be able to access the residence despite not personally maintaining it, you may still be able to apply for naturalization.

 

Additionally, in some cases where you (or your spouse/parent) worked abroad employed by the US government, a US academic institution, a US company working to promote US foreign trade, or an international organization to which the US belongs, you may also be able to apply for naturalization, even if you did not maintain your US residence continuously.

 

Requirement 5. Have been physically present in the US for 30 months of the previous 5 years

 

The fifth requirement for naturalization is that you must have been physically present in the United States for half of the time continuous residence is required. Thus, for naturalization, you must have spent 30 months (913 days) in the United States. Both the day you exit the United States and the day you arrive back in the United States, if you leave the country, will be counted toward this 913 day requirement. Again, please note that simply having a permanent resident card is not enough evidence to satisfy this requirement. You must be able to prove physical presence in the US through documentation.

 

Requirement 6. Be able to read, write, and speak basic English

 

The sixth requirement for naturalization is that you must read, write, and speak basic English. This will be tested by an examination conducted by USCIS. You will be given two attempts to pass the test.

 

Some applicants of a certain age who have spent considerable time in the United States as a permanent resident will be exempt from this. If you are: (1) 50 or older and have spent at least 20 years as a permanent resident or (b) 55 years older, and have spent 15 years as a permanent resident, you will be exempt from the language test.

 

Additionally, if you qualify for a medical exemption (cognitive disability), you may be exempt from this language test.

 

Requirement 7. Have a basic understanding of US government and history

 

The seventh requirement for naturalization is that you must have a basic understanding of US government and history. This will be determined through a civics test. You will be given two tries to pass this test.

 

People who qualified for the exemption from the English test, as discussed in the previous section, will still be required to take the civics test. Yet, these individuals will be able to take it through an interpreter in their native language. Those over 65 who have had permanent residence in the United States for at least 20 years will take a modified civics test. Additionally, those with a medical (cognitive) disability may not be required to take the civics test.

 

Requirement 8. Have good moral character

 

The eighth requirement for naturalization is that you must have good moral character. This will be done by examining your record, your naturalization application, and your interview. Some factors that could cause your application to be rejected, due to a lack of good moral character, include an admission or finding of guilt in or out of formal trial proceeding of an inadmissible crime. Crimes committed in abroad are considered in determining good moral character.

 

Cases in which one attended a training or rehabilitation program instead of facing criminal trial, where one was tried as a minor, where no punishment was imposed, where some defect was found in the decision, and where the applicant was found guilty for political reasons will not count towards the good moral character consideration.

 

However, in cases where someone under 18 was tried and found guilty as an adult or where a court martial found you to be guilty will count against your good moral character consideration. Additionally, if your case was expunged, the conviction will still be considered.

 

You cannot be found to have good moral character while on probation. Yet, upon completion, if you can demonstrate rehabilitative change, you may be found to have good moral character. Some factors that may be considered in determining if one has good moral character could include family ties, criminal history, education, past employment, tax records, community involvement, and the length of time spent in the United States.

 

Requirement 9. Demonstrate respect for the principles and ideals of the US Constitution

 

The ninth requirement for naturalization is that you must demonstrate respect for the principles and ideals of the US Constitution. You must be willing to take and follow the Oath of Allegiance, be faithful to the US, the US Constitution, and all US laws, and be willing to carry out all responsibilities of a US citizen.

 

Some of the things that may be considered when determining if this requirement is satisfied include: willingness to register for Selective Service when required to do so; membership in the Communist Party, a totalitarian party, or another terrorist organization; any connection to the Nazi Party; and any participation in persecution or genocide.

 

3. Conclusion

 

The process of naturalization allows foreign nationals who meet the requirements listed above to become US citizens, with all of the rights and responsibilities that entails.

 

Again, these nine requirements are:

 

  • That the applicant is at least 18 years old at the time of filing

 

  • That the applicant has been a permanent resident for at least 5 years (or 3 years in some special circumstances)

 

  • That the applicant has resided for at 3 months in the state or presiding USCIS district

 

  • That the applicant has had continuous residence for the previous five years in the United States

 

  • That the applicant has been physically present in the United States for at least 30 months of the previous 5 years

 

  • That the applicant can read, write, and speak basic English

 

  • That the applicant has a basic understanding of US government and history

 

  • That the applicant has good moral character

 

  • That the applicant demonstrates attachment to the principles and ideals laid out the US Constitution

 

You should now have a much stronger understanding of the various aspects of the naturalization process.

 

If you have any questions regarding the information discussed in this guide or about naturalization generally, feel free to email me directly at Michael@AshooriLaw.com. I am very responsive via email and I would be happy to help you.

 

Resources:

 

 

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Ricardo de Santiago
22:44 02 Apr 21
Ashoori Law firm provided outstanding service to my immigration need. Lahaina Araneta, Esq. helped me obtain the highly sough-after TN Visa as a Management Consultant and I couldn't be more grateful. The staff is very friendly, responsive, and... knowledgeable. I highly recommend this firm.read more
Zohir Berkane
16:14 25 Mar 21
Miss Karla was really nice and very helpful. She was answering all my questions and gave me many advices. Miss Karla, thank you so much, you made my day.
Jane Lopez
17:08 19 Mar 21
The best Law Firm I have ever called. Very friendly Staff. Was able to answer my inquiries right away. And was able to solved my Problem. Thank you so much Ashoori Law.
Elsha Shaju
22:01 11 Mar 21
I would highly recommend the firm Ashoori Law for any immigration cases or concerns and had a great experience with, Mr.Rohit Srinivasa. I am very much satisfied and will look forward working with them in future for any related cases. Best Wishes to... the entire team and sincere thanks for all your efforts.read more
Ravil Sharma
04:25 11 Mar 21
Ashoori Law were able to accommodate me quickly enough to meet my deadlines. They have been helpful throughout the entire process, answered many questions and always got back to my emails or voice messages in a timely manner. Michael and his team... are professional. I came across them after not completely satisfied with the work of my previous immigration law firm as they were cheaper. I then teamed up with Ashoori law and saw a huge difference from the first consultation and continue to see that standard throughout. I highly recommend to anyone to chose Ashoori law, it can be a daunting experience if not handled properly. However Michael’s team have done so many times before will manage to take the stress out and take care of business at hand.read more
Donna Hua
23:59 10 Mar 21
The team has all the right ingredients to success: Knowledgeable, responsive, efficient and informative. What more could you ask for?
Mahendra Satya
22:27 05 Mar 21
Initial consultation was great, able to clear my doubts in single shot, thanks Karla
Shaheen Ali
19:05 05 Mar 21
I am Canadian born citizen who had a general question in regards to moving to the US. I spoke to Karla Samayoa. I must say my consultation experience was nothing but exceptional. I had a general inquiry on the preferred methods of obtaining a visa... with dual intent. Karla was extremely helpful and answer any question I had from her. For anyone is not sure which path they should take in terms of immigration, book a free consultation with Ashoori Law. Ask for Karla, she is hands down the best person to ask for advice.read more
Susan Borzou
03:41 05 Mar 21
I couldn't be more blessed by finding Ashoori Law on google. Mr. Ehsan is so professional and helpes his clients from the heart, which was genuinely precious for me. I am also thankful for the bunch of useful videos they have on youtube 😇
Sarbjit Singh
04:49 25 Feb 21
Michael Ashoori is the Quickest ANSWERING Immigration Lawyer in the entire USA, even it’s 08:38 pm In west cost Los Angels and I texted him thru google and he immediately replied to me Question and answer booked my Free appointment for tomorrow... which is gonna be February 25 ,Well I feel very positive about it so let’s see what happens TomorrowJust want to sayThank you MichaelBestSabiread more
Ale
00:03 24 Feb 21
Karla Samayoa was very knowledgeable regarding my case and gave me thorough advise. She was very professional and kind. I will definitely look of Ashoori Law's help should I have a case to proceed further. I recommend to contact them for your legal... case regarding immigration.read more
Harim
01:10 10 Feb 21
Ashoori Law was very helpful throughout the whole process of applying for a travel document (re-entry permit). I asked them to process my case ASAP and they tried their best to expedite the process. They were informative and responsive. The most... helpful part was their prompt responses to my emails, especially given the pandemic situation. Also, their online system for filling out necessary documents was convenient and allowed me to easily track my case status. Overall, I definitely recommend working with them!read more
Natasha Methwani
00:49 10 Feb 21
We are really impressed with their services. Really professional, knowledgeable, up to date with all immigrantation changes. Our case got approved. We will recommend them for any immigration services.
Jaskiran Dhillon
17:05 03 Feb 21
My friend Ujjwal recommended Mr. Rohit Srinivasa. Had an amazing consultation with Rohit. He was very helpful and kind. He gave me ample time, guidance and resolved all my queries. I am looking forward to work with Ashoori Law Firm. Keep it up,... Rohit. Good Luck.read more
Emily S.
16:00 26 Jan 21
When I decided to engage an immigration attorney in December, I knew I needed someone that had a track record of successful execution, had a support team that could collaborate to expedite the timeline, communicated professionally, and most... importantly, was confident in my ability to get the case approved.I interviewed thirteen highly experienced immigration attorneys that were recommended by my extensive business network. I came across many issues. First of all, I was quoted astronomically high rates with long timelines. I was recommended visas that did not fit my needs, which would ultimately result in more lengthy filings and high fees. Many of these attorneys had their own private practice where they had a bias towards one type of visa they were specialized in, so they recommended immigration solutions that did not meet my profile whatsoever. Further, they did not have a strong and large enough team so they couldn’t confidently work on an expedited timeline. On the other end of the spectrum were the attorneys who worked at large firms with hundreds if not thousands of employees – they recommended the most expensive and lengthy visas, which were unrealistic for my budget and timeline.When I shared my difficulty finding an immigration attorney with a friend of mine who is a corporate lawyer in Los Angeles, he was quick to recommend Michael Ashoori. After only a few minutes of speaking to Michael on the phone for our initial consult, I knew Ashoori Law could help me with my immigration case because of their customized approach, experienced team and confidence in the visa they were recommending. Over the course of a week, I worked with his team to put together a stellar and thorough case. A few weeks later, we received an approval! Working with the Ashoori Law team on my case was a great experience! I highly recommend Ashoori Law to anyone who needs US immigration services.read more
Roberto GCB
23:38 11 Jan 21
My experience with Ashoori Law was really! Lahaina Araneta helped me through out all of my visa process and everything was really amazing. They really pay attention to every detail and try to deliver the best case possible. Totally recommend it!
Sameer Agashe
23:08 29 Dec 20
Keep up the good work!
Yousuf Dadi
02:34 29 Dec 20
I had a great experience with Ashoori law Working with Lahaina has been great. She is very professional and knowledgeable in her field. I would strongly recommend this firm. I would like to thank all team of Ashoori Law from bottom of my heart.... They respond me immediately when i need their help, I appreciate all that they have done for me.your consideration,guidance,help and time. Thanks in bunchesread more
Rhys Gray
22:07 28 Dec 20
Rohit is a credit to the company. Really took the time to listen to & understand our situation, then talked us through all of our suitable options clearly & concisely with a friendly & pressure-free manner. Absolutely would recommend to anyone who... needs help & guidance in navigating what can be an incredibly confusing processread more
karla marro
05:23 22 Dec 20
Michael and Lahaina are the best they support me from the beginning and always answering my questions and concerns and following up so I super recommend them !
3 Dots IT Solutions
18:20 07 Dec 20
I just want to say Ashoori Law firm has been the best I ever dealt with. Starting from the front desk receptionist, everybody is very professional and responsive. Lahaina is my attorney whom I worked with. She is very well organized and guided me on... the right direction towards a successful approval of H1 for my consultant. To my surprise, there wasn't a RFE at all. Thanks so much for your service and I would highly recommend them for any immigration related service.read more
Art E
18:49 30 Nov 20
After multiple, futile attempts to seek Immigration Attorneys who are knowledgeable in worker visas (specifically L1A), we were finally able to find Ashoori Law! Our first L1A case submitted to Ashoori Law was successfully APPROVED. Despite the... most recent restrictions and suspensions with worker visas, Ashoori Law was able to put forth a compelling petition. Ashoori Law's internal processing systems and network of subject matter experts makes submitting a petition much easier and understandable. Highly recommended!read more
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Michael Ashoori Headshot

Michael Ashoori, Esq.

U.S. Immigration Lawyer

I’m a U.S. immigration lawyer and I help families, professionals, investors, and entrepreneurs get visas, green cards, and citizenship to the United States.

Since starting my law firm, I’ve helped hundreds of people from all over the world with their immigration needs. I’m very passionate, hard-working, and committed to my clients.

Got a question? Send me an email.