How does a person who is not born in the United States achieve US citizenship?
We provide articles and links explaining who is eligible to apply to naturalize to become a US citizen as well as the application procedure including an online, self-correcting history and government test.
If one or both of your parents were U.S. citizens at the time you were born abroad or while you were a minor, you may have acquired U.S. citizenship at birth or derived U.S. citizenship as a minor.
Attorney Carl Shusterman worked as an INS Naturalization Attorney (1976-79) where he interviewed thousands of applicants for naturalization and for citizenship through their parents.
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To be eligible to naturalize, you must:
- Be a lawful permanent resident of the United States for 5 years, or 3 years if married to a U.S. citizen for a minimum of the 3 years. There are exceptions to this requirement for persons who have honorable service in the U.S. Armed Forces;
- Be physically present in the United States for over 50% of the required residency period;
- Be a person of good moral character;
- Take an oath of loyalty to the United States;
- Be able to speak, read and write simple words and phrases in the English language (although there are certain exceptions to this rule); and
- Pass a test in US history and government.
Once you become a citizen of the United States, you may sponsor your spouse, parents, sons and daughters as well as your brothers and sisters for lawful permanent residence in the U.S. Some persons may become American citizens at birth, or while they are minors, through their parents or grandparents. This is known as acquiring citizenship through acquisition or derivation. We have posted the government’s 4 US nationality charts on our web site.
This page is divided into the following subtopics:
- Success Stories
- General Information: How to Naturalize
- Expedited N-400 through Military Service
- Other Citizenship Resources
- Practice Advisories
US Citizenship – Related Pages:
- Deportation? No. Citizenship? Yes!
- Fabio Becomes an American Citizen
- From Deportation Proceedings to Citizenship
- Receiving a U.S. Passport through an Absent Father
- Helping A Client Become an American Citizen
- Acquiring Citizenship Through Your Ancestors
- Citizenship Through Parents
GENERAL INFORMATION – US CITIZENSHIP
- US Citizenship Test
- Download Citizenship Forms
- How Do I Apply for Naturalization? (USCIS)
- A Guide to Naturalization (USCIS)
- Naturalization Self Test (USCIS)
- Interpretations of Citizenship Laws and Court Decisions (USCIS)
- Naturalization: Exceptions and Accommodations (USCIS)
- Register for Selective Service Online
- Filing an I-130 Petition Abroad for a Petitioner in the U.S. Military
- USCIS Announces New Citizenship Ambassador Initiative (7-12-22)
- USCIS Expands Efforts to Highlight Citizenship and Immigrant Integration (9-17-15)
- Conditional Permanent Residents and Naturalization under Section 319(b) of the Act (USCIS) (8-04-09)
- Procedures for Handling Naturalization Applications of Aliens Who Voted Unlawfully or Falsely Represented Themselves as U.S. Citizens by Voting or Registering to Vote (USCIS) (5-07-02)
OTHER US CITIZENSHIP RESOURCES
- Citizenship Laws and Policies (State Department)
- Dual Nationality (State Department)
- Dual Citizenship
- Renunciation of U.S. Nationality Abroad (State Department)
- How to Reclaim Lost Citizenship
US CITIZENSHIP PRACTICE ADVISORIES
- A New Remedy for Liberians: The Liberian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act (LRIF) (1-03-20)
- ILRC Submits Comment on USCIS Fee Rule (12-23-19)
- Fee Waivers: Status of Proposed Changes (12-16-19)
- N-400: Annotated Form & Translations (12-13-19)
- How Travel Abroad Can Affect Eligibility for US Citizenship and Cause Abandonment of LPR Status (12-11-19)
- How to Get Judicial Relief Under 8 USC 1447(b) for a Stalled Naturalization Application (10-23-13)
- How to Successfully Administratively Appeal Your N-400 Denial (10-02-19)
- Public Charge and Your Ability to Naturalize (9-20-19)
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Carl Shusterman served as an INS Trial Attorney (1976-82) before opening a firm specializing exclusively in US immigration law. He is a Certified Specialist in Immigration Law who has testified as an expert witness before the US Senate Immigration Subcommittee. Carl was featured in the February 2018 edition of SuperLawyers Magazine.