Naturalization FAQ

What is naturalization?

Naturalization is the process of becoming a U.S. citizen after being a permanent resident for a five-year period (with some exceptions).

Do I need a Green Card to become a U.S. citizen?

Yes, you must have a Green Card to become a U.S. citizen.

Once I have a Green Card, what do I need to do to become a citizen through naturalization?

To become a naturalized citizen, you must be at least 18 years old, and live legally in the United States for a certain amount of time as a permanent resident. You must also demonstrate you can read and write English and that you have a grasp of U.S. history and its government by taking a written citizenship test. In addition, you must show you have “good moral character” by not being arrested for certain crimes, you must be willing to perform civil service (such as jury duty), and you must swear allegiance to the United States.

How do I become a naturalized citizen?

Once you meet all the requirements to become a naturalized citizen, as described above, you can apply for citizenship through USCIS. This requires filling out a form and going through an interview process, as well as taking a citizenship test.

How long does it take to become a U.S. citizen?

From the time you apply for citizenship, it can take anywhere between six months to a year, even if there are no problems with your application.

What are some of the benefits of becoming a U.S. citizen? 

Once you become a U.S. citizen, you no longer need to apply to renew your Green Card, and you can freely leave or enter the U.S. without risking your immigration status. In addition, U.S. citizens can petition to bring family members to the United States. Finally, you can vote in elections and run for public office.

Are there any exemptions for the requirement to read and write English?

Yes, if you have lived in the United States for more than 20 years and are over the age of 50, or if you have lived in the United States for more than 15 years and are over the age of 55, you may take the citizenship test in your native language.

Are there any exemptions for needing to take the citizenship test entirely?

Yes, some people may be exempted from taking citizenship, if they have a physical or mental disability that prevents them from doing so.