U.S. Citizenship Requirements
(1) Age 18
(2) Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR):
3 Years if Married to USC: If you received your Permanent Residency (green card) by marriage to a U.S. Citizens spouse you may apply for your citizenship if you meet the additional criteria.
5 Years most others: If you received your Permanent Residency through employment, a Non-U.S.C spouse, the Green Card Lottery, Asylum, Withholding of Removal, or through Cancellation you will require a minimum of five years status while also meeting the additional qualification.
S. Military Service: Special rules apply to members of the U.S. military. Please seek the advice of a qualified immigration attorney to see if you can qualify for citizenship today.
(3) Continuous Residence:
Overseas stays six months or longer may break your continuous residency period thereby prolonging the date in which you may qualify to submit an application.
(4) Physical Presence:
The government requires that you have a qualified number of actual days that you have physically been in the United States over the last three to five years depending on your circumstances.
(5) Residence in the State:
You must live three months in the same state prior to applying for your naturalization.
(6) Good Moral Conduct:
Serious criminal offenses may make you statutorily ineligible to naturalize. Speeding tickets, parking tickets and the like are not considered in making an assessment. Individuals with limited criminal histories should contact a qualified immigration attorney to see if they may still qualify. Often you can.
(7) Civics and History:
During the Interview you can expect to be asked a series of questions regarding U.S. history and governmental structure. Please study the following questions to prepare yourself (read the list).
(8) English Proficiency:
During the Interview the Immigration Officer will determine your English proficiency by conducting the hearing in English and typically by asking you to write a simple sentence like, “My car is black.”
Please note: The above list of requirements is not exhaustive, and additional requirements do exist. Meeting the above requirements is used merely for purposes to see if you “generally qualify” versus actually qualifying. Please consult with a qualified immigration attorney prior to filing an application for naturalization.
Right to Vote: This privilege is only available to U.S. Citizens, and while LPR’s are required to pay taxes and are permitted to reside in the U.S., they cannot participate in the government by electing those who create laws.
Sponsoring Family Members: Citizens are provided the opportunity to petition on behalf of family members and receive preferential expedition effectively reducing or eliminating the substantial immigration backlogs faced by non-U.S. Citizens and their families.
Rights Extend to Minor Children: A parents of LPR children who naturalize can automatically qualify their minor children (under 18) in many cases.
Protection Against Deportation: Non- U.S. Citizens convicted of criminal activity may be deported from the United States. Permanent Residents remain subject to the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration and the Immigration Courts. There are numerous cases of families being separated this reality.
Travel Freedoms & Protections: Many Permanent Residents delay gaining U.S. Citizenship because they can work and travel freely from the U.S. However, a Permanent Resident can lose their green card by extended travel outside the U.S., as well as having to deal with the cumbersome and confusing immigration laws as they apply to them.
U.S. Policy? Dual Nationality Allowed
The concept of dual nationality allows for a citizen of one country to simultaneously hold the citizenship one or more additional counties. The U.S. allows for dual nationality, but does not actively encourage it. While taking advantage of dual nationality, there are many rules one should follow especially when conducting themselves as they exit and enter the U.S., including always entering and exiting the U.S. with the citizen’s U.S. passport.
Major Countries Allowing For Dual Nationality w/ the United States
The following list is comprised of major countries that generally allow for retention of a person’s native citizenship upon becoming a Naturalized U.S. Citizen. This list is not exhaustive, and requires verification.
- Costa Rica
- Serbia and Montenegro
- United Kingdom
- New Zealand
- El Salvador