There are some general requirements you need to meet to be eligible for naturalization.
- You need to be at least 18 years of age
- You need to be a legal permanent resident of the U.S,
- You need to demonstrate the required physical presence for a specific time period
- You need to meet the filing jurisdiction for your area
- You need to demonstrate a good moral character
- You need to have a basic knowledge of US history and government
- You need to have the ability to read, write, speak, and understand the English Language
- You need to be willing to take an oath
The physical presence requirement is for either five years or three years if you are married to a U.S citizen and you haven’t left the U.S for trips of more than six months. What does this mean? Physical presence itself means that you must have been in the U.S for a certain number of months in order to be eligible.
It is measured in the total number of days so you must also meet the three-year citizenship requirement for your spouse as well. Let’s say that you’re married to a U.S citizen and you want to apply for naturalization. Within that three years, that spouse needs to also have been a citizen for the prior three years.
The second part of the physical presence requirement is the continuous residence and this means that you have not left the U.S for a long period of time. There are lots of nuances to this and if you have traveled a lot or you’ve stayed outside the U.S for a period of time, you might want to seek some more additional guidance before moving forward with your application just to make sure you meet that requirement as well.
You need to have a long enough time that you are lawfully present in the U.S without a break. If you are going out for five and a half months and then coming back in for two weeks and then you go back out again, you may not have built up enough continuous residence in the United States in order to be able to apply.
If you filed for a re-entry permit just to make sure that you don’t mess up or lose your green card while you go abroad for some sort of circumstance, you can break that continuous residence even if you have filed for and gotten a re-entry permit for your time coming back.
Lots of different nuances there to talk about or seek some additional guidance if you run in or fall into any of those situations.
Meeting the Filing Jurisdiction
Let’s go back to our fourth general requirement which is meeting the filing jurisdiction. Wherever you are filing from within the US for naturalization, you have to have been in that jurisdiction for at least three months. You have to have had residence there. If you have just moved, then you would need to wait for three months to file in that location.
Knowledge of US History and Government
This is a civics test. You can study while your naturalization application is pending and then at the interview, they will take you through the civics exam.
English Language Ability
There are some exceptions to that. If you are over the age of 50 and struggling with learning the English language, that’s something else to get some more additional guidance on because there are some exceptions that might be eligible you might be eligible for.
Taking an Oath
The oath has three parts. You are renouncing any foreign allegiances, you are stating that you will support the US Constitution, and that you will serve the U.S if that is needed or if you are called to do so.
I get lots of questions about dual citizenship if that is allowed in the U.S or do you have to give up your home country citizenship. Right now, that is not a requirement when you take the oath or to get naturalization.
There are also some other nuances that depending on your circumstance you might have to deal with within your application. A popular one is name changes. A lot of times people were married abroad and wanted to change their name to match their spouse’s or adding in their spouse’s name but due to the way that would have to have happened in their home country or their passport and there might have been travel issues because their passport was issued in a maiden name or the name that matched the birth certificate. Now would be the time to do that.
You can always change your name but it is a separate court filing and additional expense as well. Naturalization is a really good time to change your name if you’re wanting to do so.
Another thing that comes up frequently is the selective service and so that’s a little nuance that you might want to seek some guidance from. If you are a male in the U.S between the ages of 26 and 31, you would have had to send in your register for selected service and so, you’ll have to possibly have that letter stating that you did do that in addition to your naturalization application.