What Are the Requirements for Naturalization in the US?

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What Are the Requirements for Naturalization in the US?

Any legal permanent resident (LPR)  who has lived in the United States for a specified period and meets the other requirements we discuss below:

  • Be of the minimum required age (usually at least 18) – If you are applying based on wartime military service, you may be any age. 
  • Live continuously and physically in the US as a green card holder for the required number of years – You must have lived in the US as a legal permanent resident (LPR) for at least five years (three if you’re married to a US citizen). Continuously means you took no trips for more than six months during the years you were required to have a green card. You can leave the US, but not for more than six months at a time. If you are out of the US for more than six months, the USCIS will presume you have abandoned your LPR status and deny your citizenship application. It is possible to overcome this presumption, but far easier to avoid it altogether. You can do this by filing for a re-entry permit before you leave the country.
  • Establish residence in the state or US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) district where you intend to apply – You must have resided in the state or USCIS district where you plan to apply for citizenship for not less than three months immediately before applying for naturalization. If you move after filing, you must notify USCIS of your new address within ten days. 
  • Have a good moral character – USCIS defines good moral character as a character that measures up to the standards of average citizens. The USCIS decides whether an applicant meets this requirement on a case-by-case basis. Specifically, you may not have committed murder, illegal gambling, or immigration fraud. You also may not have lied during the immigration process. Finally, you may not have received two or more DUIs in three or five years before your application. 
  • Be proficient in basic spoken and written English and demonstrate your knowledge of US history and government. You must pass a two-part test consisting of an English test of your reading, writing, and speaking skills and a civics test that evaluates your knowledge of US history and government. The language test will be part of your interview, while the civics test will be 20 or 100 written questions. 
  • Register for military service (if you are a male of the required age) and be willing to perform civil service if and when required – Males between the ages of 18 and 26 must register with the Selective Service System. Males over 26 who did not live in the US or were not LPRs between 18 and 26 do not have to register. Failing to have registered if you were required to do so can be complicated and is best handled with the assistance of an immigration lawyer. 
  • Swear your allegiance to the United States – Finally, you must demonstrate your attachment to the US and its Constitution. This requirement means that you believe, support, and are willing to defend the principles of the US Constitution by accepting our political process and obeying the law. You will exhibit this attachment by taking the Oath of Allegiance voluntarily, giving “full allegiance” to the US by renouncing all other allegiance. Note that this is not a formal relinquishment of your former citizenship which is not required of you. You must also accept all of the duties of a US citizen and intend to fulfill them. 

Contact an Immigration Attorney Today

No immigration attorney can, of course, guarantee the speed or success of your naturalization immigration application. However, the complexities of immigration law and regulation mean that working with an attorney hugely increases your likelihood of success. If you are an LPR considering naturalization, contact us to schedule an initial consultation and review your matter. We can assist you in handling your upcoming international marriage.