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Applications for Naturalization

What is "naturalization"?

It is the process of obtaining United States citizenship. Overseen by USCIS, the naturalization process can confer an array of rights on you, including: the right to get a U.S. passport, vote in U.S. elections, participate in Social Security and other federal programs, and qualify for certain government jobs and security clearances.

Eligibility for naturalization

There are a variety of ways to become naturalized as a citizen of the United States:

#1. Being born in the U.S.

This is the easiest method. Anybody born on U.S. soil is a citizen. This is true whether your parents can claim direct descendants from the Mayflower or whether your parents were illegal aliens who gave birth to you several feet inside the U.S. border. The status of your parents is irrelevant. If you're born on U.S. soil, you are a U.S. citizen.

#2. Acquisition of citizenship at birth

If you're born outside the U.S., and one of your parents is a U.S. citizen, you can acquire citizenship right at birth.

#3. Citizenship conferred as a result of naturalization of your parents

If you're born outside of the U.S., but your parents become naturalized, you may automatically become naturalized yourself.

#4. Other

In general, you must live for 5 years as a permanent resident of the U.S. before you're eligible for naturalization. You must be a lawful resident, 18 years or older, and demonstrate "good moral character" during your stay in the United States. You also must show mastery of U.S. government and history fundamentals. In addition, you must be able to read and write English at an elementary level, and you must have resided in the state where you file your petition for at least three months. For an up-to-date list of guidelines, see the USCIS website.

Exceptions to eligibility rules

USCIS eligibility guidelines can be bent or waived, depending on circumstances. For instance, if someone's been a permanent resident of the United States for 20 years, and that person is over 65 years of age, he or she may not be required to pass a citizenship test in order to qualify for naturalization.

Help with your naturalization application

The road to citizenship can be long and frustrating for some. Fortunately, the law firm of Howard Law is here to help. We can answer complex questions you may have about naturalization. We provide free initial consultations for all clients. Phone us at 1 (800) 872-5925, or visit us on the web at