What is Naturalization?
Naturalization is a process for qualified permanent residence (green card holder) to acquire US citizenship or nationality.
Requirements of Naturalization
1. Must be a lawful permanent resident.
2. Must be at least 18 years old.
3. Must meet the requirements of continuous residence and physical presence.
- A naturalization applicant who is married to a US citizen must be a continuous resident for at least 3 years after obtaining green card status and be physically present in the US for at least 18 months in the previous 3 years immediately before submitting the application of naturalization.
- Other naturalization applicants must continuously reside in the US for at least 5 years after obtaining green card status and be physically present in the US for at least 30 months in the previous 5 years immediately before submitting the application of naturalization.
- Applicants must also have resided in the State for at least three months at the time filing the naturalization application.
- During the period of continuous of residency, an absence between 6 months and a year raises a question of whether the continuity of residence has been interrupted. An absence more than a year shall disrupt the continuity of residence.
4. Must meet the requirement of Good Moral Character.
- A naturalization applicant must be a person of good moral character for 5 years (or 3 years for spouse of US citizen) prior to the filing of naturalization application.
5. Must demonstrate the knowledge in English Language and US History and Government.
- Naturalization applicants are required to take a test to demonstrate having elementary-level knowledge in English language and fundamental understanding of US history and government. An applicant who fails the test may take a second test within 90 days of the first test.
There are situations the applicant may be exempted from taking the test:
- The applicant who is over 55 years old and has been residing in the U.S. as a lawful permanent resident for at least 15 years, or who is over 50 years old has been residing in the U.S. as a lawful permanent resident for at least 20 years does not need to take English test.
- The Attorney General shall give special consideration to test US history and government knowledge to applicants who are over 65 years old and have been a lawful permanent residence for 20 years.
- Applicants who are physically or mentally impaired may be exempt from the English and US history and government requirements.
How to Apply for US Citizenship by Naturalization?
US permanent residents should file form N-400 with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to apply for naturalization.