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What is Naturalization

Naturalization is the process by which U.S. citizenship is conferred upon a foreign citizen or national after he or she fulfills the requirements established by Congress in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). The general requirements for administrative naturalization include:

  • If the applicant a period of continuous residence and physical presence in the United States;
  • If the applicant residence in a particular USCIS District prior to filing;
  • If the applicant an ability to read, write, and speak English;
  • If the applicant a knowledge and understanding of U.S. history and government;
  • If the applicant good moral character;
  • If the applicant attachment to the principles of the U.S. Constitution; and,
  • If the applicant favorable disposition toward the United States.


All naturalization applicants must demonstrate good moral character, attachment, and favorable disposition. The other naturalization requirements may be modified or waived for certain applicants, such as spouses of U.S. citizens.

A naturalized U.S. citizen gains several rights, including:

  • The right to vote in U.S. elections;
  • The right to obtain a United States passport;
  • The right to participate in federal programs such as Social Security;
  • The ability to qualify for certain security clearances

To become eligible for U.S. citizenship by naturalization, a person must have been a legal permanent resident of the U.S. for at least five years, during which no trips abroad were taken for more than six months, and were present in the United States for not less than half of the entire period (two-and-a-half years). Other factors, such as marriage to a U.S. citizen, may affect eligibility for citizenship.

After the naturalization application is approved, a person will not become a United States citizen until he/she has taken the Oath of Allegiance -- swearing allegiance to the United States and renouncing all allegiances to any foreign country. At such time you the Permanent Residence Card (Green Card), should be returned and a Certificate of Naturalization will be issued.


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