Eligibility Requirements

If you are a green card holder of at least 5 years, you must meet the following requirements in order to apply for naturalization:

  • Be 18 or older at the time of filing
  • Be a green card holder for at least 5 years immediately preceding the date of filing the Form N-400, Application for Naturalization
  • Have lived within the state, or USCIS district with jurisdiction over the applicant’s place of residence, for at least 3 months prior to the date of filing the application
  • Have continuous residence in the United States as a green card holder for at least 5 years immediately preceding the date of filing the application
  • Be physically present in the United States for at least 30 months out of the 5 years immediately preceding the date of filing the application
  • Reside continuously within the United States from the date of application for naturalization up to the time of naturalization
  • Be able to read, write, and speak English and have knowledge and an understanding of U.S. history and government (civics).

Be a person of good moral character, attached to the principles of the Constitution of the United States, and well disposed to the good order and happiness of the United States during all relevant periods under the law.

A naturalization applicant must show that during the five years (three years for a spouse of a US citizen) immediately prior to filing the application, he or she has been a person of good moral character. The applicant must also demonstrate good moral character from the time of application until the person actually takes the oath of allegiance to become a US citizen. USCIS can look at the applicant’s activities prior to the five year period, but it should not deny an application only because of behavior before the five or three-year period.

Many people with criminal convictions are ineligible to show good moral character however; many people who have been convicted of a crime or misdemeanor are still eligible to naturalize and can still prove good moral character.

The Child Citizenship Act

Which Children Automatically Become Citizens Under the New Law?

Beginning February 27, 2001, certain foreign-born children—including adopted children—currently residing permanently in the United States will acquire citizenship automatically. The term “child” is defined differently under immigration law for purposes of naturalization than for other immigration purposes, including adoption. To be eligible, a child must meet the definition of “child” for naturalization purposes under immigration law1 and must also meet the following requirements:

  • The child has at least one United States citizen parent (by birth or naturalization);
  • The child is under 18 years of age;
  • The child is currently residing permanently in the United States in the legal and physical custody of the United States citizen parent;
  • The child is a lawful permanent resident;
  • An adopted child meets the requirements applicable to adopted children under immigration law2

Acquiring citizenship automatically means citizenship acquired by law without the need to apply for citizenship. A child who is currently under the age of 18 and has already met all of the above requirements will acquire citizenship automatically on February 27, 2001. Otherwise, a child will acquire citizen automatically on the date the child meets all of the above requirements.