from wave after wave of immigrants. In each generation, they have proved to be the most
restless, the most adventurous, the most innovative, the most industrious of people.
Bearing different memories, honoring different heritages, they have strengthened our economy,
enriched our culture, renewed our promise of freedom and opportunity for all…
- You may have acquired citizenship at birth if one or both of your parents were citizens at that time and you were born outside of the United States.
- If one or both parents became naturalized United States citizens before you were age 18, you may have derived citizenship.
American Samoa and Swains Island are possessions of the United States. The people who were born there as well as some people from the Northern Mariana Islands are called non-citizen nationals of the United States. Their requirements for naturalization are similar to those of permanent residents.
Naturalization is how immigrants become citizens of the United States. If you wish to apply for naturalization, you should use the “Application for Naturalization” (Form N-400).
If you want to apply for citizenship for a child who is under 18 years old, you should use the “Application for Certificate of Citizenship” (Form N-600) or “Application for Citizenship and Issuance of a Certificate under Section 322” (Form N-600K).
To be eligible for naturalization, an applicant must fulfill certain eligibility requirements set forth in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).
- These general eligibility requirements specify that the applicant must:
- Be at least 18 years of age;
- Be a lawful permanent resident (green card holder);
- Have resided in the United States for at least five years;
- Have been physically present in the United States for at least 30 months;
- Be a person of good moral character;
- Be able to speak, read, write and understand the English language;
- Have knowledge of U.S. government and history; and
- Be willing and able to take the Oath of Allegiance.
- Spouses of U.S. citizens may apply for naturalization may apply three years after becoming lawful permanent residents and must only be physically present for at least 18 months
- Spouses of U.S. citizens stationed abroad may not be required to meet any particular residence or physical presence requirement.
- Members of the military who served honorably during certain periods of conflict may be eligible or naturalization even though they have not been admitted as lawful permanent residents and even if they are under the age of 18.
- Members of the military who served honorably for at least one year, at any time, and apply for naturalization within a certain time after their military service, are also exempt from the general residence and physical presence requirements.