Citizenship

Naturalization Qualifications

Gaining U.S. Citizenship

You May Qualify for Naturalization if:

  • Be 18 or older at the time of filing
  • 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
  • Has been a green card holder for at least 5 years (3 years if married to an US citizen) immediately preceding the date of filing the application without leaving the US for trips of 6 months or longer.
  • 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). However, there are some exceptions for qualified applicants.
  • 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
  • Your child may qualify for naturalization if you are a U.S. citizen if certain requirements are met

To determine your 90-day early filing date, you can use USCIS Early Filing Calculator on the USCIS website at:

http://www.uscis.gov/dateCalculator.html

The calculator will help you verify that you file your Form N-400 with USCIS no more than 90 days prior to your permanent resident anniversary date. USCIS will deny your Form N-400 if you file your Form N-400 more than 90 days prior to your anniversary date.

Continuous Residence Example

  • An applicant became a Permanent Resident on January 1, 2004.
  • She lived in the United States for 3 years, then returned to her native country for 1 year and 3 months.
  • She got a Re-entry Permit before leaving the United States so that she could keep her Permanent Resident status.
  • The applicant re-entered the United States with Permanent Resident status on April 1, 2008.

When is the applicant eligible for naturalization?

Answer: On April 2, 2012, 4 years and 1 day after she returned to the United States. The last 364 days the applicant was out of the United States count toward her time as a Permanent Resident in “continuous residence,” but the 3 years in the United States before leaving do not.

English Language Exemptions (55/15 and 50/20 exception)

You are exempt from the English Language Requirement, but are still required to take the Civics Test if you are:

  • Age 50 or older at the time of filing for naturalization and have lived as a permanent resident (green card holder) in the United States for 20 years   (commonly referred to as the “50/20” exception).
    OR
  • Age 55 or older at the time of filing for naturalization and have lived as a permanent resident in the United States for 15 years (commonly referred to as the “55/15” exception).