Naturalization Requirements and Red Flags
If you are a permanent resident, you can become a U.S. Citizen through the process called naturalization if you meet the following requirements:
- You have resided in the United States as a permanent resident continuously for five years. (You can qualify after only three years if you have been married to and living with the same U.S. citizen for the last three years.)
- You have been physically present in the United States as a permanent resident for half of the five years (or half of the three, if you are married to a U.S. Citizen).
- You have resided for at least three months in the state in which the naturalization application will be filed.
- You are a person of good moral character.
- You have a basic knowledge of U.S. government and history.
- You are able to read, write, and speak simple English (with exceptions for some older and long-time permanent residents, and for disabled permanent residents). Please check our list of free or low cost ESL and Civics courses to find organizations helping you prepare to meet this requirement.
- You are at least 18 years of age and legally competent to take an oath of allegiance to the United States.
- You express your allegiance to the United States.
You should see an immigration attorney or other legal counselor if any of the following apply to you:
- You have ever been arrested.
- You have ever lied to any immigration officer, consular official, or government official.
- You married solely to obtain resident status.
- Since becoming a lawful permanent resident, you have been absent from the United States for long periods of time, especially periods over one year.
- You have ever failed to file an income tax return for any year since becoming a lawful permanent resident or you currently owe money to the government for overdue taxes.
- You have ever voted or registered to vote.
- You failed to support your dependents or to pay alimony.
- You are a male who lived in the United States at any time between your 18th and 26th birthdays and failed to register with the Selective Service.
- One of your parents became a U.S. citizen before you turned 18. You may already be a U.S. citizen.