Naturalization is the process by which U.S. citizenship is conferred upon a foreign citizen or national after he or she fulfills the requirements established by Congress in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). The general requirements for administrative naturalization include:
Note: Recent changes in immigration law and USCIS procedures now make it easier for U.S. military personnel to naturalize (see Naturalization Information for Military Personnel).
All naturalization applicants must demonstrate good moral character, attachment, and favorable disposition. The other naturalization requirements may be modified or waived for certain applicants, such as spouses of U.S. citizens. Applicants should review the materials listed under “Related Links” and carefully read the N-400 application instructions before applying.
Applicants must be at least 18 years old. Refer to the section, Naturalized Citizen’s Children under Waivers, Exceptions, and Special Cases for information on applicants who are less than 18 years old. See Also INA 334
An applicant must have been lawfully admitted to the United States for permanent residence. Lawfully admitted for permanent residence means having been legally accorded the privilege of residing permanently in the United States as an immigrant in accordance with the immigration laws. Individuals who have been lawfully admitted as permanent residents will be asked to produce an I-551, Alien Registration Receipt Card, as proof of their status. See Also INA 316.
Residence and Physical Presence
An applicant is eligible to file if, immediately preceding the filing of the application, he or she:
Good Moral Character
Generally, an applicant must show that he or she has been a person of good moral character for the statutory period (typically five years or three years if married to a U.S. citizen or one year for Armed Forces expedite) prior to filing for naturalization. The Service is not limited to the statutory period in determining whether an applicant has established good moral character. An applicant is permanently barred from naturalization if he or she has ever been convicted of murder. An applicant is also permanently barred from naturalization if he or she has been convicted of an aggravated felony as defined in section 101(a)(43) of the Act on or after November 29, 1990. A person also cannot be found to be a person of good moral character if during the last five years he or she:
An applicant must disclose all relevant facts to the Service, including his or her entire criminal history, regardless of whether the criminal history disqualifies the applicant under the enumerated provisions. See Also INA 316.
Attachment to the Constitution
An applicant must show that he or she is attached to the principles of the Constitution of the United States. See Also INA 316.
Applicants for naturalization must be able to read, write, speak, and understand words in ordinary usage in the English language. Applicants exempt from this requirement are those who on the date of filing:
United States Government and History Knowledge
An applicant for naturalization must demonstrate a knowledge and understanding of the fundamentals of the history and of the principles and form of government of the United States. Applicants exempt from this requirement are those who, on the date of filing, have a medically determinable physical or mental impairment, where the impairment affects the applicant’s ability to learn U.S. History and Government.
Applicants who have been residing in the U.S. subsequent to a lawful admission for permanent residence for at least 20 years and are over the age of 65 will be afforded special consideration in satisfying this requirement. See Also INA 312.
Oath of Allegiance
To become a citizen, one must take the oath of allegiance. By doing so, an applicant swears to:
In certain instances, where the applicant establishes that he or she is opposed to any type of service in armed forces based on religious teaching or belief, INS will permit these applicants to take a modified oath.