Becoming a U.S. Citizen

After becoming a permanent resident, you can apply for citizenship or Naturalization.


  • Must be 18 years old
  • Must have Permanent Residence Status (Green Card) for five years subsequent to application. If married to a U.S. Citizen, the permanent residency requirement is three years.
  • Must have resided for at least three months within the state the petition was filed.
  • Must be physically present in the U.S. for at least one-half of the five years (one half of the three years for spouse of a Citizen).
  • Must have resided continuously within the U.S. from the date the application was filed up to the time of admission to citizenship
  • Must not be absent for a period more than one year during the period residence is required. (Five years or three years)
  • Must be a person of good moral character.

Common Reasons for Denial of Citizenship

  • Applicant cannot speak/write English: Applicants are required to speak, understand and write in the English language. An exception exists where the applicant is at least 50 years old and has maintained permanent residency for at least 20 years, or is at least 55 years old and has maintained permanent residency for at least 15 years. Here, the applicant may have the examination performed in his or her native language. The applicant may also apply for a Waiver if he or she is unable to learn English due to a medical condition.
  • Arrests: An applicant may be denied citizenship if he or she is on probation for any crime committed at the time of interview. An applicant may also be denied Citizenship if he or she committed a crime involving moral turpitude.

Application Procedure

Application should be filed at the regional Service Center where the applicant is permanently residing. The Application is submitted on a N-400 form with three photos. Fingerprints are no longer submitted with the application. The applicant will be scheduled for fingerprinting and an interview subsequent to filing the application. Applicants can file their citizenship applications up to three months before meeting the residency requirements.

How to Become a Naturalized US Citizen (Permanent Residents with No Special Circumstances)

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