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Naturalization is the process by which a Lawful Permanent Resident (“LPR”) becomes a citizen of the United States. The process entails the filing of a Form N-400 Application for Naturalization, providing biometrics, attending a naturalization interview with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”), passing an English language and U.S. history/government exam that is conducted during the interview, and taking an oath of citizenship.

Most LPRs are eligible to apply for naturalization after five years of becoming an LPR. Foreign nationals who are married to a U.S. Citizen, may apply for naturalization after three years of permanent residence if they have been and continue to live in marital union with their U.S. spouse for that period.

The eligibility requirements for naturalization include:

  • Must be an LPR for five years (or three years if married to and continuously residing with U.S. Citizen spouse).
  • Must be over 18 years old.
  • Must normally be a resident continuously for the five (or three) years subsequent to becoming an LPR
  • Must have resided for at least three months within the state in which the naturalization application is filed.
  • Must be physically present in the U.S. for at least half of the five (or three) year period preceding the application for naturalization.
  • Must have resided continuously within the U.S. from the date the naturalization application is filed up until the time of admission to citizenship.
  • Must not be absent from the U.S. for a continuous period of more than one year during the period for which continuous residence is required.
  • Must be a person of good moral character for the requisite five (or three) years prior to filing the naturalization application and up until the time of admission to citizenship. This requirement relates to crimes committed, meeting tax obligations, etc.
  • Must demonstrate an elementary level reading, writing, and understanding of the English language and knowledge and understanding of the fundamentals of the history and government of the United States.

INA §319(b): Waiver of Naturalization Residency Requirements

Naturalization applicants whose U.S. Citizen spouse is employed abroad by the U.S. Government, an American institution of research, an American firm or corporation engaged in the development of foreign trade and commerce, a public international organization in which the U.S. participates by treaty or statute, or is authorized to perform ministerial or priestly functions of a religious denomination having a bona fide organization within the U.S. or who is engaged as a missionary abroad may naturalize without the need to comply with the residency requirement (3/5 years in the U.S. since obtaining LPR and 3 months in the jurisdiction where naturalization application is filed).
INA §320: Automatic Acquisition of Citizenship for Children Born Abroad but Residing Permanently in the United States

INA §320: Automatic Acquisition of Citizenship for Children Born Abroad but Residing Permanently in the United States

A child born abroad automatically becomes a U.S. citizen when all of the following conditions have been met: 1) at least one parent of the child is a U.S. citizen; 2) the child is under age 18; and 3) the child is residing in the U.S. in the legal and physical custody of the U.S. citizen parent pursuant to a lawful admission for permanent residence. The child may either request evidence of U.S. citizenship from USCIS or apply for a U.S. passport through the U.S. State Dept.

INA §322: Acquiring Citizenship for Children Born and Residing Abroad

A parent who is a U.S. citizen (or, if the citizen parent has died during the preceding 5 years, a citizen grandparent or citizen legal guardian) may apply for naturalization on behalf of a child born abroad who has not automatically acquired citizenship under INA §320. A Certificate of Citizenship will be issued once the following has been established: 1) at least one parent (or, at the time of his or her death, was) is a U.S. citizen, whether by birth or naturalization; 2) the U.S. citizen parent has/had been physically present in the U.S. or its outlying possessions for a total period of 5 or more years, two of which were after attaining the age of 14 or has/had a U.S. citizen parent who met those requirements; 3) the child is under 18; and 4) the child is residing abroad in the legal and physical custody of the applicant.