General Eligibility Requirements for Naturalization

Prior to filing Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, you need to understand the requirements for naturalization and see to it that you meet those requirements. That is because, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will not consider applications filed by the applicants who are ineligible for naturalization.

To file an application for naturalization, you

  • must hold a valid green card.
  • must be of age 18 or above. Minors under age 18 are ineligible for naturalization but may become citizens automatically if their parents naturalize before their 18th birthday.
  • will need to show that you have resided in America as a legal resident for a five year period. In case you are applying for naturalization based on your marriage to a U.S. citizen, you must show that you have lived here as a legal resident for three years.
  • must have been physically present in the country for 30 months, or 18 months if you are married to a U.S. citizen. You must not have stayed abroad for more than six continuous months.
  • must file your N-400 application in the American state in which you have been living for the past three months.
  • must reside in the U.S. until USCIS decides on your case.
  • need to be aware of the U.S. history and be good in English.
  • must not have been convicted of crimes; having a criminal background will make you ineligible for citizenship in the U.S.
  • should be willing to swear the Oath of Allegiance.

The above are general requirements that do not apply to all the immigrants looking to naturalize. Some requirements, like the continuous residence and physical presence requirements, may be waived for applicants who belong to the U.S. Armed Forces.

Likewise, you need not go through the naturalization process if your parents or either of your parents are U.S. citizens. In this case, you can claim U.S. citizenship and to do so, you need to file Form N-600, Application for Certificate of Citizenship, to get a citizenship certificate.

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