To become a U.S. citizen, one must undergo naturalization.
Naturalization is the legal process in which an immigrant or foreign
citizen completes an application, and must pass two tests to become a
formal citizen of the United States. The government uses this strenuous
process as a way of filtering out those that do not truly wish to become
citizens. Due to the overwhelming amount of paperwork and the need for
absolute correctness on the application for naturalization, one would
greatly benefit by hiring an attorney for the naturalization process.
To become a naturalized citizen, one must*:
- Be 18 years of age
- Have lawful permanent residence and
continuous residence in the U.S. for five years (three years if one
obtained a green card through marriage to a U.S. citizen)
- Be physically present for half those years
- Have good moral character
- Belief in the fundamental principles of the United States Constitution
- Be able to read, write, and communicate in English
- Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of U.S. history and government
*Exceptions apply for those have special circumstances; those with
disabilities, members of the military, veterans, spouses married to U.S.
citizens overseas, and others who have lived in the U.S. for an
extended period of time.
Why Become a United States Citizen
United States citizens enjoy many privileges that those with legal
resident status do not have. Only U.S. citizens can vote in federal
elections, be elected as a federal official, or be eligible for federal
jobs. Once an immigrant becomes a U.S. citizen, he or she has priority
over others to bring his/her family into the country and can more easily
naturalize his children that were born abroad. A naturalized citizen
can also obtain a U.S. passport and express commitment to his or her new
How to Become Naturalized if You Meet These Requirements
The Naturalization process is long and difficult. To be certain you
follow all the necessary steps and procedures correctly, it helps to
hire an immigration lawyer to aid you on your track to becoming a
To begin the Naturalization process, you need an Application for
Naturalization (Form N-400). A link to the application is provided
below. In addition to the Application for Naturalization, you will need
two passport-style photographs, money to pay the fee, and necessary
documents* for identification. Remember to keep a copy of everything you
send to the United States Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS).
After you send in the above documents, you will receive an
appointment time from the USCIS to be fingerprinted. After this is done,
the USCIS will schedule an interview. When you go to the interview,
bring proper identification, two additional passport photos and other
necessary documents**. During the interview, you will need to answer
questions about yourself and your background, and also take an English
and History test. You will then receive a decision and be required to
take an oath of allegiance to the United States at a separate ceremony.
*Be certain to also send a translation of any non-English documents.
**USCIS will send you a letter telling you about any other needed documentation.
Please click on the link for the Application for Naturalization (For Download Form N-400).