There are seven basic requirements that a permanent resident must fulfill before the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service will allow him/her to become a United States citizen.
1. Be at least 18 years old.
If less than 18 years of age, the applicant may be eligible for a Certificate of Citizenship.
2. Be a lawful permanent resident (have a "Green Card") for five years.
o If you are married to a U.S. citizen, you need to be a lawful permanent resident for only three years. Additional documentation will be required to prove that you and your United States citizen spouse are still married and cohabitating. o If you had refugee or asylee status, you do not need the full five years of being a permanent resident. See a naturalization expert.
3. Have physical presence in the United States.
Applicants are required to show that they were: o Physically present in the U.S. for thirty months (30) within the five year period before applying, or o Physically present in the U.S. for eighteen months (18) within the three year period before applying in the case of applicants married to U.S. citizens Furthermore, applicants are required to show they have resided for at least three months immediately preceding the filing of the application in the USCIS district or state where the applicant claims to have residency.
4. Have good moral character.
o This means, among other things, not having certain problems with the police or other authorities. If you have been arrested, you must provide certified copies of the arrest record; police report; court minutes and final disposition for each criminal offense. If you do have a prior criminal history, I strongly recommend that you seek experienced immigration counsel to represent you for the naturalization petition.
5. Be able to speak, read, and write English at a basic level.
o There are exceptions for older people. You do not have to know English if at the time you apply for naturalization: --You are 55 years or older and have had a green card for 15 years, or --You are 50 years or older and have had a green card for 20 years.
6. Be able to pass a test on U.S. history and government.
o Online resources have been provided the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service at http://www.uscis.gov/citizenship/learners/study-test o To assist with preparation for the test. If required, Applicants must start preparing vigorously for the test upon submission of the naturalization application. o If the Applicant fails the test, they are provided another opportunity to retake the test within sixty days from the initial interview.
7. Swear that you are loyal to the United States.
If you are unable to swear allegiance to the United States, you will not be able to naturalize.