The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has a set of different requirements that applicants seeking US citizenship must meet. If an applicant fails to meet USCIS criteria, it is not possible to qualify for US citizenship.
Keep reading to discover how to qualify for US citizenship.
US Naturalization vs. US Citizenship Acquisition – Do Both Terms Refer to the Same Concept?
While many people think the terms “US naturalization” and “US citizenship” refer to the same concept, they do not. To obtain US citizenship, an individual may either be a US citizen at birth, acquire US citizenship as a child through parents who are US citizens or apply for US naturalization.
As defined by USCIS, the term “naturalization” refers to the process by which eligible foreign nationals living as permanent residents in the United States can obtain US citizenship. The acquisition of citizenship happens through US citizenship parents either at birth or after birth.
While only individuals who are at least 18 years can apply for US naturalization, acquisition of citizenship is obtained before the age of 18.
If an individual was neither born in the United States nor born to US citizens, there are three ways to obtain US citizenship:
- Applying for US naturalization based on permanent resident status
- Applying for US naturalization based on marriage to a US citizen
- Applying for US naturalization based on military service
USCIS has different requirements for each category. The most common path to US citizenship is filing for naturalization after living in the United States as a lawful permanent resident for at least five years.
Consult with an expert immigration attorney to identify which requirements apply to your case.
How Do I Qualify for US Citizenship? – Lawful Permanent Residents
If an applicant’s petition for naturalization is based on lawful permanent residence in the United States for at least five years, USCIS requires the applicant to:
- 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 for at least five years immediately before the date of application
- Demonstrate real commitment to the principles and ideals of the US Constitution
- Have 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
In specific cases, some applicants do not need to go through English proficiency tests and can take the civics test in the language of their choice due to their age and time spent in the United States as lawful permanent residents.
Applying for US citizenship is a process riddled with potential pitfalls. Consult with an expert immigration attorney to ensure smooth USCIS processing and increase your chances of approval.