U.S. Citizenship


Most immigrants in the United States become citizens through the naturalization process.  You must first submit Form N-400 along with the applicable fees to USCIS and supporting evidence https://www.uscis.gov/n-400.  You are then invited for an interview where you must pass a civics test and a basic English exam.  After you pass your naturalization interview, you must participate in an Oath ceremony where you will swear your allegiance to the United States and get your naturalization certificate.

Eligibility for Naturalization

If you are a Green Card holder, you can apply for Naturalization if:

  • You had your green card for at least 5 years, or 3 years if you are married to a United States citizen,
  • Have maintained a physical residence in the U.S.,
  • You are at least 18 years old,
  • Are a person of good moral character,
  • You can read, write, speak, and understand basic English.

Citizenship Through U.S. Citizens Parents

There are two general ways to obtain citizenship through U.S. citizen parents: at birth, and after birth but before the age of 18.

There are also laws that determine how citizenship is conveyed by a U.S. citizen parent (or parents) to children born outside of the United States. Generally, the law in effect at the time of the child’s birth determines whether the child born outside the United States to a U.S. citizen parent (or parents) is a U.S. citizen at birth. In general, at least one parent must be a U.S. citizen, and the U.S. citizen parent must have lived in the United States for some of time. Children born abroad may become U.S. citizens after birth.

Automatic U.S. Citizenship Through Parents

A child born outside of the United States automatically becomes a U.S. citizen when all of the following conditions have been met on or after Feb. 27, 2001:

  • The child has at least one parent, including an adoptive parent, who is a U.S. citizen by birth or through naturalization;
  • The child is under 18 years of age;
  • The child is a lawful permanent resident (LPR); and
  • The child is residing in the United States in the legal and physical custody of the U.S. citizen parent.

In this situation, the child may apply for a Certificate of Citizenship by submitting a Form N-600 with the required fees and supporting evidence.

Attorney Ingrid Borges Perez speaks
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