You can obtain citizenship in the United States
through birth in the
U.S., birth to U.S. Citizen parents, naturalization, or through
naturalization of parents. We are specifically concerned here
issues of naturalization. In order to obtain citizenship in the
United States through naturalization, it is first necessary to
obtain permanent residency. Permanent residents are not required
become U.S. Citizens, but may choose to become naturalized U.S.
citizens if they meet certain requirements.
for naturalization (citizenship) include
following: Individuals must maintain Permanent Residency for five
years (three years for the spouses of U.S. citizens) and continuous
residence to the date of naturalization and intent to reside
permanently in the U.S.; Maintain physical presence in the U.S.
a minimum of thirty (30) months during the five years prior to
submission of the application for naturalization (eighteen months
for spouses of U.S. citizens) without a continuous absence of
year or more (unless a Reentry Permit is applied for and approved
USCIS); Must have a basic knowledge and understanding of the history
and government of the United States; Establish
good moral character
and support of the principles of the U.S. constitution. The
individual must also be willing to take the full oath of allegiance
to the United States.
are exceptions to the above listed requirements, including
ability to read, speak and write English is not required of four
classes of applicants:
who are physically unable to comply because of a disability;
who are unable to comply because of a developmental disability
or mental impairment;
over fifty years of age who have lived in the United States
for twenty years as Permanent Residents; and
over fifty-five years of age who have lived in the United States
for fifteen years since becoming Permanent Residents.
Citizenship Act of 2000", effective February 27, 2001,
streamlines the process by which foreign-born children of U.S.
citizen parents can become U.S. citizens when they did not acquire
citizenship at birth. The child acquires U.S. citizenship automatically
without the need to apply for either a passport or a Certificate
of Citizenship. The Act, which applies to both adopted and biological
children of U.S. citizens, provides for the automatic acquisition
of U.S. citizenship when certain conditions have been met.
Matter of Rodriguez-Tejedor, 23 I&N
Dec. 153 (BIA 2001) ID 3454: (1)
The automatic citizenship provisions of section 320 of
Immigration and Nationality Act, 8 U.S.C. § 1431 (1994),
by the Child Citizenship Act of 2000, Pub. L. No. 106-395, 114
1631 ("CCA"), are not retroactive and, consequently,
do not apply to
an individual who resided in the United States with his United
States citizen parents as a lawful permanent resident while
the age of 18 years, but who was over the age of 18 years on
effective date. (2) The respondent, who resided in the United
with his United States citizen adoptive parents as a lawful
permanent resident while under the age of 18 years, but who
the age of 18 years on the CCA effective date, is ineligible
automatic citizenship under section 320 of the Act.
can I become a United States citizen?
person may become a U.S. citizen (1) by birth or (2) through naturalization.
is born a United States citizen?
people are born U.S. citizens if they are born in the United States
or if they are born to U.S. citizens:
By being born in the United States. If you were born in the United
States (including, in most cases, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S.
Virgin Islands), you are an American citizen at birth (unless you
were born to a foreign diplomat). Your birth certificate is proof
of your citizenship.
Through birth abroad to TWO United States citizens. In most cases,
you are a U.S. citizen if ALL of the following are true: Both your
parents were U.S. citizens when you were born; and At least one
of your parents lived in the United States at some point in their
life. Your record of birth abroad, if registered with a U.S. consulate
or embassy,is proof of your citizenship.
may also apply for a passport to have your citizenship recognized.
If you need additional proof of your citizenship, you may file
an "Application for Certificate of Citizenship" (Form N-600)
with USCIS to get a Certificate of Citizenship. Call the USCIS Forms
1-800-870-3676 to request a Form N-600.
Through birth abroad to ONE United States citizen. In most cases,
you are a U.S. citizen if ALL of the following are true: One
your parents was a U.S. citizen when you were born; Your citizen
parent lived at least 5 years in the United States before you
born; and At least 2 of these 5 years in the United States were
after your citizen parent's 14th birthday. Your record of birth
abroad, if registered with a U.S. consulate or embassy,is proof
of your citizenship. You may also apply for a passport to have
citizenship recognized. If you need additional proof of your citizenship,
you may file an "Application for Certificate of Citizenship" (Form
N-600)with USCIS to get a Certificate of Citizenship.If you were
before November 14, 1986, you are a citizen if your U.S. citizen
parent lived in the United States for at least 10 years and 5
those years in the United States were after your citizen parent's
do I become a naturalized citizen?
you are not a U.S. citizen by birth, you may be eligible to become
a citizen through naturalization. People who are 18 years and
use the "Application for Naturalization" (Form N-400) to become
naturalized. Children who are deriving citizenship from naturalized
parents use the "Application for a Certificate of Citizenship" (Form
N-600) to become naturalized. Call the USCIS Forms Line at 1-800-870-3676
to request a Form N-600.
are the requirements for naturalization? (click on question
for pdf file)
does my time as a Permanent Resident begin?
time as a Permanent Resident begins on the date you were granted
permanent resident status. This date is on your Permanent Resident
Card (formerly known as Alien Registration Card).
form do I use to file for naturalization?
should use an "Application for Naturalization" (Form N-400). Call
the USCIS Forms Line at 1-800-870-3676 to request a Form N-400, or
download it by clicking on the USCIS
I have been convicted of a crime but my record has been expunged,
do I need to indicate that on my application or tell an USCIS officer?
You should always be honest with USCIS regarding all: arrests; convictions
(even if they have been expunged); and crimes you have committed
for which you were not arrested or convicted. Even if you have committed
a minor crime, USCIS may deny your application if you do not tell
the USCIS officer about the incident.
is Good Moral Character?
: An applicant for naturalization must establish that
he or she is a person of good moral character (GMC). Although good
moral character is not specifically defined, it has been interpreted
to mean a person's adherence to the moral standards of the average
citizen in the community in which the applicant resides. Click
link for a checklist of some of the crimes or offenses that fall
under the Crimes involving moral character (CIMT) category. This
checklist is designed to provide a quick reference to the types
of offenses which the Board of Immigration Appeals has found to
be "Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude."
in Determining Good Moral Character: Is testimony that is
false due to a misunderstanding and incorrect advice sufficient
to deny citizenship for lack of good moral character, or did Congress
intend to deny citizenship only in those USCIStances where an applicant
shows an intent to deceive the USCIS officer in order to gain citizenship?
Go to : KRYSTYNA
PLEWA, Plaintiff, vs. IMMIGRATION AND NATURALIZATION SERVICE
and DORIS MEISSNER, Commissioner, IMMIGRATION AND NATURALIZATION
SERVICE, Defendant. No. 99 C 302 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR
THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS, EASTERN DIVISION 77 F. Supp.
2d 905; 1999
do I file my naturalization application?
should send your completed "Application for Naturalization" (Form
N-400) to the appropriate USCIS Service Center.
NOT send original documents with your application unless the checklist
on page 34 states that an original is required.
USCIS provide special accommodations for me if I am disabled?
people with disabilities need special consideration during the naturalization
process. USCIS will make every effort to make reasonable accommodations
in these cases. For example, if you use a wheelchair, we will make
sure your fingerprint location is wheelchair accessible. If you
are hearing impaired and wish to bring a sign language interpreter
to your interview, you may do so.
long will it take to become naturalized?
time it takes to be naturalized varies from one local office to
another. In 1997, in many places, it took over 2 years to process
an application. USCIS is currently modernizing and improving the naturalization
process. Within the next 2 years, USCIS would like to decrease the
time it takes to become naturalized to 6 months.
can I be fingerprinted?
USCIS has received your application, they will notify you of the location
where you should get fingerprinted.
if I cannot make it to my scheduled interview?
is very important not to miss your interview. If you have to miss
your interview, you should notify the office where your interview
is scheduled by mail as soon as possible. In your letter, you
ask to have your interview rescheduled. Rescheduling an interview
may add several months to the naturalization process, so try
to change your original interview date. If you miss your scheduled
interview without notifying USCIS, they will "administratively close" your
case. Unless you contact USCIS to schedule a new interview within
1 year after USCIS closes your case, they will deny your application.
USCIS will not notify you if it closes your case because you missed
do I do if my address has changed?
your address changes, you should call the USCIS Forms Line (1-800-870-3676)
and request an "Alien's Change of Address Card" (Form AR-11).
Complete this form and send it back to USCIS. This form is pre-printed
the USCIS address on it. It is important to make sure USCIS has your
latest address. If USCIS does not have a current address for you,
you may not receive important information. For example, USCIS may
not be able to notify you of your interview date and time. USCIS
may not be able to tell you if you need to send or bring additional
documents to your interview. Eventually, USCIS hopes you will be
to change your address through the USCIS Telephone Center.
USCIS grants me naturalization, when will I become a citizen?
become a citizen as soon as you take the Oath of Allegiance to
the United States. In some places, you can choose to take the
same day as your interview. If that option is not available or
if you prefer a ceremony at a later date, USCIS will notify you
ceremony date with a "Notice of Naturalization Oath Ceremony" (Form
should I do if I cannot go to my oath ceremony?
you cannot go to the oath ceremony, you should return the "Notice
of Naturalization Oath Ceremony" (Form N-445) that USCIS sent to you.
You should send the N-445 back to your local office. Include a letter
saying why you cannot go to the ceremony. Make a copy of the notice
and your letter before you send them to USCIS. Your local office will
reschedule you and send you a new "Notice of Naturalization Oath
Ceremony" (Form N-445) to tell you when your ceremony will be.
can I do if USCIS denies my application?
is an administrative review process for those who are denied naturalization.
If you feel that you have been wrongly denied naturalization,
may request a hearing with an immigration officer. Your denial
letter will explain how to request a hearing and will include
you need. The form for filing an appeal is the "Request for Hearing
on a Decision in Naturalization Proceedings under Section 336 of
the Act" (Form N-336).
I reapply for naturalization if USCIS denies my application?
many cases, you may reapply.
you reapply, you will need to complete and resubmit a new N-400
and pay the fee again. You will also need to have your fingerprints
and photographs taken again. If your application is denied, the
denial letter should indicate the date you may reapply for citizenship.
If you are denied because you failed the English or civics test,
you may reapply for naturalization as soon as you want. You should
reapply whenever you believe you have learned enough English or
civics to pass the test.
do I do if I have lost my Certificate of Naturalization? What do
I use as proof of citizenship if I do not have my certificate?
may get a new Certificate of Naturalization by submitting an "Application
for Replacement Naturalization/Citizenship Document" (Form N-565)
to USCIS. You may obtain an N-565 by calling the USCIS Forms Line (1-800-870-3676).
Submit this form with the fee to your local USCIS office. It may
up to 1 year for you to receive a new certificate. If you have
one, you may use your passport as evidence of citizenship while
for a replacement certificate.
I need to obtain a new Permanent Resident Card (formerly known as
an Alien Registration Card) when USCIS issues a new version of the
you only need to renew your Permanent Resident Card when it expires.
I am naturalized, is my child a citizen?
if children are Permanent Residents, they can derive citizenship
from their naturalized parents. This is true whether the child
a child by birth or adoption.* In most cases, your child is a citizen
if ALL of the following are true: The other parent is also naturalized
OR You are the only surviving parent (if the other parent is
OR You have legal custody (if you and the other parent are legally
separated or divorced); The child was under 18 when the parent(s)
naturalized; The child was not married when the parent(s) naturalized;
and The child was a Permanent Resident before his or her 18th
If you and your child meet all of these requirements, you may obtain
a passport for the child as evidence of citizenship. If the child
needs further evidence of citizenship, you may submit an "Application
for Certificate of Citizenship" (Form N-600) to USCIS to obtain a
Certificate of Citizenship. (Note: the child may obtain a passport
or Certificate of Citizenship at any time, even after he or she
turns 18.) All adoptions must be completed by the child's 16th
in order for the child to be eligible for any immigration benefit,
I am naturalized but the above situation does not apply to me or
my child, how can I apply for citizenship for my child?
many cases, citizens may apply for citizenship for their children:
(1) Children by birth or adoption who are Permanent Residents
both parents are alive and still married to each other, but only
one parent is a citizen, you may apply for citizenship for your
child using an "Application for Certificate of Citizenship" (Form
N-600). The child must meet ALL of the following requirements at
the time he or she takes the Oath of Allegiance (Note: the Oath
may be waived if the child is too young to understand it): The child
is under 18; AND The child is not married; AND The Child is a Permanent
Resident; AND The child is in legal custody of the parent who is
a citizen. (2) Children by birth or adoption who are NOT Permanent
Residents If at least one of the child's parents is a citizen, the
parent may apply for citizenship for the child using an "Application
for Certificate of Citizenship" (Form N-600). The child must meet
ALL of the following requirements at the time he or she takes the
Oath of Allegiance.
the Oath may be waived if the child is too young to understand it):
The child is under 18; and The child is not married; and The child
is lawfully present in the United States in a non-resident status
(e.g., with a B-2 or F-1 visa); and The child is in legal custody
of the parent who is a citizen; The citizen parent has lived at
least 5 years in the United States and at least 2 of these 5 years
in the United States were after the citizen parent's 14th birthday.
In some cases, a child may have a parent who is a U.S. citizen but
who has not lived in the United States for at least 5 years, 2 of
which were after the citizen parent's 14th birthday.
these cases, the U.S. citizen parent may apply for citizenship
for the child using an "Application for Certificate of Citizenship" (Form
N-600). The child must meet ALL of the following requirements
at the time he or she takes the Oath of Allegiance (Note: the
may be waived if the child is too young to understand it): The
child is under 18; The child is not married; The child is lawfully
in the United States in a non-resident status (e.g., with a B-2
or F-1 visa); A U.S. citizen parent has a parent (the child's
who is also a U.S. citizen; The child is in legal custody of the
U.S. citizen parent whose parent is also a U.S. citizen; The
citizen grandparent lived at least 5 years in the United States;
and At least two of these years in the United States were after
the citizen grandparent's 14th birthday.
do I register register with selective services?
Service registration allows the United States Government to maintain
a list of names of men who may be called into military service
case of a national emergency requiring rapid expansion of the U.S.
Armed Forces. By registering all young men, the Selective Service
can ensure that any future draft will be fair and equitable.
law requires that men who are at least 18 years old, but not yet
26 years old, must be registered with Selective Service. This
all male non-citizens within these age limits who permanently reside
in the United States. Men with "green cards" (lawful permanent
residents) must register. Men living in the United States without
(undocumented aliens) must also register. But men cannot register
after reaching age 26.
Do I Need to Register with the Selective Service?
to register for the Selective Service may (in certain USCIStances)
make you ineligible for certain immigration benefits, such as citizenship.
For USCIStructions on registering with Selective Service as an immigrant,
please see the Selective Service System's "Check
a Registration" Webpage.
REGISTER: If you are an immigrant male (documented or undocumented)
living in the United States, age 18 through 25, you are required
If you would like answers to frequently asked questions about Selective Service, please see Selective Service System's "Frequently Asked Questions" Webpage.
||REQUIRED TO REGISTER?
|Lawful non-immigrants on visas (e.g., diplomatic and consular
personnel and families, foreign students, tourists with unexpired
visas (Forms I-94, I-95A), or those with Border Crossing Documents
(Forms I-185, I-186, I-444).
|Permanent resident aliens.
|Special (seasonal) agricultural workers (Form I-688).
|Special agricultural workers (Form I-688A).
|Refugee, parolee, and asylee aliens.
|Undocumented (illegal) aliens.
**NOTE: Immigrants who did not enter the United States or maintained
their lawful non-immigrant status by continually remaining on a
valid visa until after they were 26 years old were never required
to register. Also, immigrants born before 1960 who did not enter
the United States or maintained their lawful non-immigrant status
by continually remaining on a valid visa until after March 29,
1975 were never required to register.
Download N-400 Instructions (121KB PDF)
Download N-400 (670KB PDF)
Photograph Standards (67KB PDF)
Sample Sentences for Written English Testing
Civics and Citizenship Study Materials
Sample U.S. History and Government Questions (English Version) (169KB PDF)
Study questions for naturalization test preparation