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How long does a permanent resident wait to become a U.S. citizen?

On Behalf of | Feb 10, 2023 | Immigration

US citizenship and Immigration Services letterhead and USA flags

If you are a U.S. permanent resident, chances are good that your ultimate goal is to become a citizen someday. After all, U.S. citizenship comes with a variety of benefits such as the right to vote, live overseas without losing your U.S. status and avoid deportation. 

However, you cannot apply for U.S. citizenship immediately upon stepping foot in the country. You have to meet certain requirements. 

Eligibility for naturalization

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is responsible for reviewing and determining eligibility for naturalization. To apply for citizenship, you will need to prove the following to the USCIS:

  • That you have been a U.S. permanent resident for the last five years. 
  • That you have continually lived in the U.S. for at least 30 months out of the five years of permanent residency.
  • That you have lived in the state where you are applying for naturalization for three months or more.

The path to citizenship

Besides being a permanent resident for at least five years, you will also be required to meet certain conditions to become a naturalized U.S. citizen. Here are some of these conditions:

  • Age requirement: You will need to be at least 18 years when applying to become a naturalized U.S. citizen. However, minors automatically become U.S. citizens when their parents complete the naturalization process.
  • Language requirements: You will also be required to pass the English and U.S. history and government tests. Basically, this means that you should be able to read, speak and write English and have adequate knowledge and understanding the U.S. history and civics.
  • Character requirements: Of course, everyone makes mistakes. However, the USCIS wants new citizens to be people of sound moral character. Certain criminal convictions can certainly prevent you from becoming a U.S. citizen.

Becoming a U.S. citizen comes with lots of benefits. However, it is not a straightforward process. Find out how you can safeguard your rights while pursuing U.S. citizenship.