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Naturalization

Naturalization – U.S. Citizenship

Citizenship can be obtained at birth, through your parents, spouse, or through a process called naturalization.

Requirements For Obtaining Citizenship Through Your Parents

A person may obtain citizenship through their parents at birth, or after birth but before the age of 18 years old.

A Child Born Outside the U.S. is a Citizen at Birth IF…AND…

Both parents were U.S. citizens at the time of birth,

The parents were married at the time of birth and at least one parent lived in the U.S. or its territories prior to the birth.

If the child was born out of wedlock, see N-600: FAQ.

One parent is a U.S. citizen at the time of birth and the birthdate is on or after November 14, 1986

The parents are married at the time of birth and the U.S. citizen parent had been physically present in the U.S. or its territories for a period of at least five years at some time in his or her life prior to the birth, of which at least two years were after his or her 14th birthday.

If the U.S. citizen parent spent time abroad in any of the following three capacities, this can also be counted towards the physical presence requirement:

  • Serving honorably in the U.S. Armed Forces;
  • Employed with the U.S. Government; or
  • Employed with certain international organizations.

Additionally, time spent abroad by the U.S. citizen parent while the U.S. citizen parent was the unmarried son or daughter and a member of the household of a person who meets any of the three conditions listed above can also be counted.

If the child was born out of wedlock, see N-600: FAQ.

One parent is a U.S. citizen at the time of birth and the birthdate is before November 14, 1986 but after October 10, 1952

The parents are married at the time of birth and the U.S. citizen parent was physically present in the U.S. or its territories for a period of at least ten years at some time in his or her life prior to the birth, at least five of which were after his or her 14th birthday.

If the U.S. citizen parent spent time abroad in any of the following three capacities, this can also be counted towards the physical presence requirement:

  • Serving honorably in the U.S. Armed Forces;
  • Employed with the U.S. Government; or
  • Employed with certain international organizations.

Additionally, time spent abroad by the U.S. citizen parent while the U.S. citizen parent was the unmarried son or daughter and a member of the household of a person who meets any of the three conditions listed above can also be counted.

If the child was born out of wedlock, see N-600: FAQ.

 

Automatic U.S. Citizenship After Birth – But Before the Age of 18

A Child Born Outside the U.S. is a Citizen after Birth IF…AND…

The child was under 18 or not yet born on February 27, 2001At least one parent is a U.S. citizen, the child is currently under 18 and residing in the U.S. in the legal and physical custody of the U.S. citizen parent pursuant to lawful admission for permanent residence.

The child was under 18 from December 24, 1952 to February 26, 2001

The child was residing as a Green Card holder in the U.S. and both parents naturalized before the child’s 18th birthday; OR

  • If one parent died, that the surviving parent naturalized before the child turned 18.
  • If the parents legally separated, that the parent maintaining legal and physical custody naturalized before the child turned 18.
  • If the child was born out of wedlock and paternity has not been established by legitimation, the mother naturalized before the child turned 18.

NOTE:  The order in which the child meets the conditions does not matter so long as the child meets all the conditions before his or her 18th birthday.

The child was adopted by a U.S. citizen parent

The child resides legally in the U.S. in the legal and physical custody of the U.S. citizen parent and meets the following conditions after February 27, 2001 but before his or her 18thbirthday:

  • The adoptive parent adopted the child before his or her 16th birthday (or, in some cases, 18th birthday) and had legal custody of the child and resided with the child for at least two years; OR
  • The child was admitted to the United States as an orphan (IR-3) or Convention adoptee (IH-3) whose adoption by his or her U.S. citizen parent(s) was fully completed abroad; OR

The child was admitted to the United States as an orphan (IR-4) or Convention adoptee (IH-4) who was coming to the United States to be adopted and the child’s adoptive parent(s) completed the adoption before his or her 18th birthday.

 

Requirements For Obtaining Citizenship Through Your Spouse

In general, you may qualify for naturalization under Section 319(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) if you

1. Have been a permanent resident (green card holder) for at least 3 years

2. Have been living in marital union with the same U.S. citizen spouse during such time

3. Meet all other eligibility requirements under this section

In certain cases, spouses of U.S. citizens employed abroad may qualify for naturalization regardless of their time as permanent residents. These spouses may qualify under Section 319(b) of the INA.

 

Requirements For Naturalization

In order to apply for U.S. citizenship, you must meet the following requirements:

1.  Be at least 18 years old

2. Have had a valid Green Card at least five years. If you are married to U.S. citizen you may apply after three years with a valid Green Card. Or, if you have served in the United States armed forces during war, you may apply for U.S. citizenship without first obtaining a Green Card if you were in the United States upon enlistment into the U.S. military.

3.  Have maintained continuous residence in the United States for at least five years (or three years if you are married to a U.S. citizen)

4.  Have been physically present in the United States for at least two and a half years (or one and half years if you are married to a U.S. citizen)

5.  Have lived in the state where the Form N-400 is submitted for at least three months

6.  Be able to read, write and speak English

7.  Have a general knowledge of the fundamentals of U.S. history and government

8.  Be a person of good moral character and willing to abide by the principles of the U.S. Constitution.