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How do I become a U.S. citizen?

People born inside the United States or to U.S. citizens while in another country, are U.S. citizens by birth. This includes births inside U.S. territories. However, another way to become a citizen is through the naturalization process. Children, under the age of 18, will become naturalized citizens with their parents. There are several steps in this process, including determining if you are eligible for naturalization.

How do I know if I'm eligible?

People choose to become citizens for a variety of reasons. Additional conditions may apply depending on your reasons for entering the United States and seeking citizenship. However, the general requirements to be eligible for naturalization are as follows:

  • You must be at least 18 years of age or older when you apply.
  • You must be a permanent resident with a Green Card for a minimum of 5 years. Additionally, you will need to demonstrate you have held your residence in the U.S. for five years prior to your application.
  • Prove that you have lived in the state or a USCIS district where you apply for three months prior to application.
  • Prove that you have physically been in the United States for 30 months of the 5 years prior to your application.
  • You must be able to read, write and speak basic English at a minimum.
  • You will also need to have an understanding of U.S. history and government.
  • Have good moral character.
  • Show you are committed to the U.S. Constitution's ideals.

What happens after eligibility is determined?

Once you have proven that you are eligible to become a naturalized citizen, you will need to complete a number of forms that ask for very detailed and personal information about you, your life outside the U.S. and your life since you have been in the U.S.

Additionally, after your application is filed, you will be fingerprinted and complete an interview. You will also take a test that covers the basics of reading, writing and speaking English, as well as complete a civics test to demonstrate you understand United States history and government.

How an attorney can help

An experienced attorney who is knowledgeable about the immigration and naturalization process will be able to answer detailed questions in depth. Additionally, an attorney can help you complete and file forms, as well as guide you through all procedures one step at a time, which will ease the transition and make the process less stressful. 

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