Naturalization is the process that allows a permanent resident to obtain United States citizenship.  Reciting the oath of allegiance and being sworn in as a naturalized citizen can be one of the proudest moments for immigrants and their families.  For many, this is the culmination of a long and challenging journey, one that has taken many years of hard work and sacrifice.     

Some of the basic requirements that must be met in order to seek naturalization include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • 5 years of permanent residence in the United States
  • Demonstrating good moral character during this time period
  • Physically present within the United States for at least 2 ½ of the past 5 years prior to the filing of the naturalization application
  • Successfully passing a test regarding the history and government structure of the United States (known as the civics test)
  • Demonstrating English speaking, reading and writing abilities 

Some exceptions to these basic requirements may apply in certain cases.  For example, in the case of an applicant who is married to a United States citizen, the required period of permanent residence may be reduced to 3 years.   For such individuals, the physical presence requirement would also be proportionately reduced.  In addition, waivers may be available from the English language requirements as well as the civics test, depending on the applicant’s age, length of permanent residence, and health conditions.    

There are many factors that can affect an applicant’s ability to demonstrate good moral character for the required time period.  These can include certain types of criminal conduct (regardless of whether they result in a conviction), as well as the nonpayment of certain types of financial obligation such as past due taxes and child support.

More information on the naturalization process can be found on the official USCIS website here

If you are considering applying for naturalization, you should consult with a qualified immigration attorney to ensure that you are able to meet all of the requirements imposed by the relevant statuses and regulations.  

News feed courtesy of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services