How to become a United States Citizen:
You have been a permanent resident green card holder for the last five years, or a permanent resident green card holder for the last three years if you are filing as the spouse of a US citizen. Now you want to enjoy the benefits of being a United States citizen, maybe you want to vote, maybe you want to have the chance of working federal jobs, or maybe you just don’t want to worry about renewing your green card every 10 years and have the peace of mind that comes with being a United States citizen. Below are the steps and requirements that are necessary to become a United States citizen.
Phase one: Eligibility
The applicant must be at least eighteen years old at the time of filing N-400 form. You also must be a permanent resident green card holder of at least five years OR a permanent resident green card holder of at least three years if you are filing as the spouse of a person who is a United States citizen.
There is a ninety-day filing exception. You may submit your N-400 to USCIS as early as
ninety days before reaching your three- or five-year wait period as a green card holder —
as long as you’ve satisfied all other eligibility requirements. You must still wait the full three or five years, however, to become a U.S. citizen. Filing early just lets you get ahead in the application process. (Our guide to citizenship has the full details.)
You can apply if you are married to, and living with, a US citizen. You also must have been married to that US citizen for at least the past three years. The US citizen spouse must have been a US citizen for at least the past three years.
Also during the past three years, you must not have been out of the country for eighteen months or more. You are eligible to apply based on five-year residency if during the last five years you have NOT been out of the United States for thirty months or more.
There are exceptions to the thirty-month rule. If you are a person who has served on board a vessel operated by or registered in the United States OR are an employee or an individual under contract to the US Government OR a person who performs ministerial or priestly functions for a religious denomination or an interdenominational organization with a valid presence in the United States.
To qualify for citizenship eligibility you must have not gone a trip outside the United
States for one year or more without an approved “Application to Preserve Residence for
You must reside in the state or district in which you applied for citizenship for at least the last three months.
Next Step – Biometrics Appointment
The next step is to set up your biometrics appointment — basically, getting your
fingerprints taken — at your local USCIS field office. As with the marriage-based green
card process, USCIS will take your fingerprints during naturalization in order to conduct
a background check. The fingerprinting appointment usually takes place about a month
after USCIS receives your U.S. citizenship application.
You must have “good moral character,” broadly defined as a character that measures up to
the standards of average citizens in your community. More specifically, however, it
means you did not have certain types of crimes — such as murder, illegal gambling, or intentionally lying to the U.S. government in order to gain immigration benefits — on
your record at any time before filing, and you did not lie during your naturalization
Phase Two: Exam and Oath
You must pass a two-part naturalization test: the first is an English language test
(covering reading, writing, and speaking skills) and the second a civics test (covering
knowledge of U.S. history and government).
You must be able to read, write and speak basic English. There are some exceptions to
this requirement. If you are over the age of fifty years old and have lived in the United
States for at least the last twenty years since becoming a Permanent resident OR you are over the age of fifty-five years old and have lived in the United States for at least fifteen
years since becoming a Permanent Resident OR you have a disability that prevents you from fulfilling this requirement and you will file a “Medical Certification for Disability Exceptions” (Form N-648) completed a signed by a doctor with your application.
You must know the fundamentals of US History and the form and principles of the US
Government. Must be willing to serve in the U.S. military or perform civilian service for the
The United States if called upon to do so. You must register with the Selective Service System if you are male and have lived in the United States between the ages of 18 and 25. You must be willing to defend the U.S. Constitution.
If you are able to pass through the two phases of requirements then you can become a United States citizen. If you want to determine your citizenship eligibility, please give us a call at (866)-691-9894 for a consultation to begin your path to becoming a United States citizen.