Individuals may qualify for naturalization if they meet the following requirements:
- Requisite number of years as a lawful permanent resident (generally, five years with certain exceptions)
- Physical presence in the US for a majority of the requisite number of years as a lawful permanent resident
- Good moral character
- At least 18 years of age
- Ability to pass the English test (with some exceptions)
- Ability to pass the civics test (with some exceptions)
Who are exempt from the general rule of 5 years as a lawful permanent resident? Individuals who meet the eligibility requirements to file as a spouse of a U.S. citizen may be able to file for naturalization if they have been a permanent resident for at least three years. Those who have served or in active military duty may also qualify within a shorter period of time.
One important requirement to obtain citizenship is showing good moral character. This is a complex area of law that the applicant should discuss with a lawyer. Individuals, who have failed to file their taxes, have a criminal history, have failed to pay child support, and other issues must consult with a knowledgeable attorney.
Requirements for Eligibility
Exceptions to the 5-year LPR Status Requirement
Exemption from Certain Requirements
Good Moral Character Issues
Acquired and Derivative Citizenship / Child Citizenship Act
Under the Child Citizenship Act, a child automatically becomes a U.S. citizen when the following conditions have been met:
- At least one parent is a U.S. citizen,
- The child is under 18 years of age, and
- The child is residing in the U.S. in the legal and physical custody of the U.S. citizen parent,
- A stepchild who has not been adopted does not qualify for citizenship under this Act. There are other requirements for children residing outside the United States or adopted children that should be discussed with a knowledgeable attorney in detail.