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U.S. Citizenship

U.S. Citizenship general eligibility requirements

To be eligible for naturalization based on being a lawful permanent resident for at least five years, you must:

  • Be at least 18 years old when submitting the application for U.S. Citizenship.

  • Show you have been a lawfully admitted permanent resident of the United States for at least five years (or 3 years if married and still residing with a U.S. Citizen).

  • Demonstrate continuous residence in the United States for at least five years immediately before the date you file for U.S. Citizenship.

  • Show you have been physically present in the United States for at least 30 months out of the five years immediately before the date you file for U.S. Citizenship.

  • Show you have lived for at least three months in a state or USCIS district having jurisdiction over your place of residence. (If you are a student and are financially dependent on your parents, you may apply for naturalization where you go to school or where your family lives.)

  • Show that you are a person of good moral character and have been a person of good moral character for at least five years immediately before the date you file for U.S. Citizenship.

  • Be able to read, write and speak basic English. (Exemptions for the English Language Test are available for those who qualify)

  • Have knowledge and understanding of the fundamentals of the history, and of the principles and form of government, of the United States, (civics); and

  • Take an Oath of Allegiance to the United States.

 

U.S. Citizenship

Citizenship offers many benefits and equally important responsibilities. By applying, you are demonstrating your commitment to this country and our form of government. Deciding to become a U.S. citizen is one of the most important decisions an immigrant can make. 

Important Reasons to Consider U.S. Citizenship

  • Vote. Only citizens can vote in federal elections. Most states also restrict the right to vote, in most elections, to U.S. citizens.

  • Serve on a jury. Only U.S. citizens can serve on a federal jury. Most states also restrict jury service to U.S. citizens. Serving on a jury is an important responsibility for U.S. citizens.

  • Travel with a U.S. passport. A U.S. passport enables you to get assistance from the U.S. government when overseas, if necessary.

  • Bring family members to the U.S. 

  • U.S. citizens generally get priority when petitioning to bring family members permanently to this country.

  • Obtain citizenship for children under 18 years of age

  • In most cases, a child born abroad to a U.S. citizen is automatically a U.S. citizen.

  • Apply for federal jobs. Certain jobs with government agencies require U.S. citizenship.

  • Become an elected official. Only citizens can run for federal office (U.S. Senate or House of Representatives) and for most state and local offices.

  • Keep your residency. A U.S. citizen’s right to remain in the United States cannot be taken away.

  • Become eligible for federal grants and scholarships. Many financial aid grants, including college scholarships and funds given by the government for specific purposes, are available only to U.S. citizens.

  • Obtain government benefits. Some government benefits are available only to U.S. citizens.

 

The Naturalization Interview and Test

During your naturalization interview, a USCIS officer will ask you questions about your application and background. Unless you qualify for an exemption, you will also take a naturalization test which is made up of two components, an English and civics test.

  • During the English test, you must demonstrate an understanding of the English language including the ability to read, write, and speak basic English.

  • During the civics test, you will answer important questions about American government and history.

 

Citizenship Rights and Responsibilities

     What are your rights?

  • Freedom to express yourself.

  • Freedom to worship as you wish.

  • Right to a prompt, fair trial by jury.

  • Right to vote in elections for public officials.

  • Right to apply for federal employment requiring U.S. citizenship.

  • Right to run for elected office.

  • Freedom to pursue “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

     

      What are your responsibilities?

  • Support and defend the Constitution.

  • Stay informed of the issues affecting your community.

  • Participate in the democratic process.

  • Respect and obey federal, state, and local laws.

  • Respect the rights, beliefs, and opinions of others.

  • Participate in your local community.

  • Pay income and other taxes honestly, and on time, to federal, state, and local authorities.

  • Serve on a jury when called upon.

  • Defend the country if the need should arise.

Are you ready to become a U.S. Citizen?

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