If a lawful permanent resident (green card holder) meets the requirements established by US Congress in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), he or she can apply for US naturalization. How is it possible for foreign nationals to get naturalized in the US? Keep reading to find out.
US Naturalization vs. US Citizenship – The Fundamentals
Applying for US naturalization is the logical path for individuals who have been living in the United States as lawful permanent residents for a long time. The first step is to identify whether the applicant is already a US citizen without realizing it. A person is a US citizen if:
- He or she was born on American soil (US states, the District of Columbia, or American territories overseas)
- He or she is entitled to US citizenship through a US citizen parent
If a person qualifies for neither of these eligibility criteria, the process of naturalization offers a feasible way to US citizenship. Naturalization is the process by which eligible permanent residents in the United States are granted US citizenship after meeting USCIS requirements.
Only lawful permanent citizens older than 18 years can apply for US naturalization, while individuals entitled to US citizenship by birth can obtain a Certificate of Citizenship before the age of 18.
How Can I Get Naturalized in US? – Taking a Closer Look
There are three ways available for individuals seeking US naturalization, which are:
- Applying for naturalization based on lawful permanent resident status
- Applying for naturalization based on marriage to a US citizen
- Applying for naturalization based on military service
Most applications for naturalization filed with USCIS are based on the applicant’s lawful permanent residence in the United States. If the applicant’s eligibility is based on being a lawful permanent resident for at least five years, the applicant must:
- Be at least 18 years old at the time of the application
- Provide evidence of lawful permanent residence in the United States for at least five years
- Demonstrate continuous residence in the United States for at least five years immediately before the date of application
- Provide evidence of physical presence in the United States for at least 30 months out of the five years immediately before the date of application
- Provide evidence that they have lived for at least three months in a state or USCIS district with jurisdiction over the applicant’s place of residence
- Provide evidence of being a person of good moral character for at least five years immediately before the date of application
- Demonstrate real commitment to the principles and ideals of the US Constitution
- Demonstrate English proficiency
- Demonstrate knowledge of the essential facts of the history, principles, and form of government of the United States
- Take an Oath of Allegiance to the United States
If the applicant’s petition for naturalization is based on the marriage to a US citizen, the requirements are slightly different. Spouses of US citizens may apply for US naturalization after at least three years of lawful permanent residence in the country.
Additionally, the applicant must have been living in a marital union with his or her US citizen spouse during the three-year period immediately before the date of the application and during the application’s processing.
Consult with an expert immigration attorney for an individual assessment to obtain US citizenship through the process of naturalization.