GENERAL CRITERIA FOR NATURALIZATION AS A U.S. CITIZEN

  • Must be a person of good moral character;
  • Must be a lawfully admitted Permanent Resident for 5 years or 3 years if married to a U.S. Citizen (can file 3 months early)
  • Must have been physically present in the USA for at least one- half of the preceding 5 years (or 3 years if married to a U.S. Citizen) as a Permanent Resident;
  • Must have resided for past 3 months in same district for the Court or USCIS to have authority to naturalize applicant;
  • Must be 18 years of age or older;
  • Exception: no minimum age for adopted child of U.S. Citizen
  • Must pass a test on U.S. history and the form of government as tested by an USCIS Examiner, unless permanently disabled;
  • Must be able to read and write English;
  • Exception for certain long term, senior age Permanent Residents and permanently disabled
  • Must be willing to bear arms on behalf of the U.S.;
  • Must take the oath of allegiance to the United States;
  • Exception: alternative oath can be requested for documented religious reasons;
  • Must have filed U.S. tax returns [Form 1040; never 1040 NR] for at least past 5 years (or marriage case 3);
  • Must not have been absent from the USA for a continuous period of 12 months or longer, without permission;
  • Must not have been absent from the USA for continuous 6-month period or longer, unless satisfactory proof that Permanent Residency not abandoned and physical presence not broken;
  • Must not have voted in a U.S. election or claimed to be a U.S. Citizen when not a U.S. Citizen with rare exception;
  • If male, must have registered for the Selective Service as age appropriate
  • RARE EXCEPTIONS exist to these rules. NOTE: USCIS will combine your prior immigration files and will review them one more time. Let us know if there is a potential problem in your prior immigration history. BEWARE. The USCIS uses applications for naturalization as an investigation tool to place people in removal/deportation proceedings. Representation by an experienced immigration attorney is highly recommended.