Someone born in the United States would be a natural-born citizen, which gives access to certain government benefits. But, an immigrant would not have this same right. An immigrant would need to apply for naturalization to be a U.S. citizen.
To begin the naturalization process, an immigrant must be at least 18 years of age at the time of application. The following are some requirements when applying for naturalization:
Naturalization eligibility requirements
Before you may become a naturalized citizen, you must have been a lawful permanent resident in the U.S. for at least five years. Here’s what else you need:
- During those five years, they must have physically resided in the United States for at least 30 months.
- An immigrant’s principal residence must have been in the United States for those five years, even if they were abroad during that period; if an immigrant is gone for six months to a year, the procedure may be derailed.
- An immigrant must have spent at least three months residing in the city or state where they filed their application with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
- An immigrant must be morally upright.
- They must demonstrate the ability to read, speak and write English.
- They must demonstrate the ability to uphold the principles outlined in the US Constitution.
- They must have a basic understanding of American history and civics.
- An immigrant may swear allegiance to the United States after completing all the tests and interviews necessary to become a citizen.
The naturalization process is complicated. Immigrants must be able to present all the information necessary during the process. It may be necessary to reach out for legal help when applying for U.S. citizenship.