Citizenship and Naturalization


In general, if you are a green card holder for at least 5 years, you must meet the following requirements in order to apply for citizenship  through the naturalization:

  • Be 18 or older at the time of filing
  • Be a green card holder for at least 5 years immediately before you file the application
  • Have lived within the state for at least 3 months before you file the application
  • Have continuous residence in the United States as a green card holder for at least 5 years immediately before the date of filing the application
  • Be physically present in the United States for at least 30 cumulative months out of the 5 years immediately before the date of filing the application
  • Reside continuously within the United States from the date of your application for citizenship up to the time of your naturalization ceremony
  • Be able to read, write, and speak English and have knowledge and an understanding of U.S. history and government (civics). Some exceptions do apply.
  • Be a person of good moral character and be willing to follow the laws and the Constitution of the United States.

In some cases, you may be eligible for citizenship earlier or be exempt from some of the requirements.  For example, if you were married to a U.S. citizen at the time you became a permanent resident, you are eligible for citizenship three (3) years after getting the green card if you are still married to the same U.S. citizenship at the time of eligibility.  There are other exceptions and paths to naturalization as well.

Note:  If you naturalize before your permanent resident child is 18 years old, your child automatically becomes a citizen and does not need to apply for naturalization.  He or she can obtain a U.S. passport as soon as you naturalize.

Derivative Citizenship (Citizenship through Parents)

Children born in other countries to U.S. citizens may derive U.S. citizen.  Lawful permanent resident (LPR)  children under the age of 18 may become citizens automatically if one or both parents naturalize.  The rules for derivative citizenship  are very complex so you should consult an immigration attorney if you believe you derived citizenship through your parents.

Related articles

Overview of immigration process
Eligibility for citizenship
Exemptions and Exceptions to Certain Requirements
Benefits and Responsibilities of Citizenship
Citizenship civics test study materials
Citizenship through parents

Get the right help to guide you through  complex immigration rules.  For your specific citizenship matter, call  214-494-8033 or complete the form to schedule a confidential and thorough  case review with one of our attorneys.

NOTE: Immigration law changes frequently. The resources and information provided on this web site are intended to help you understand basic issues involved in the immigration process, and are offered only for general informational and educational purposes. This information is not offered as, nor does it constitute legal advice or legal opinions. Although we strive to keep this information current, we neither promise nor guarantee that the information is the latest available, or that it applies to your specific situation. You should not act or rely upon the information in these pages without seeking the advice of an attorney.

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