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The path to obtaining citizenship through naturalization

On Behalf of | Jun 9, 2023 | Immigration

US citizenship and Immigration Services letterhead and USA flags

The long-term goal of many people immigrating to the USA every year is to secure citizenship. This gives you the opportunity to access benefits that other U.S. citizens have and can assist you with helping other members of your family move to this country too. 

The path to becoming a U.S. Citizen, if you are not born here, is through naturalization. To be granted U.S. citizenship by naturalization, there are eligibility criteria that need to be met. 

The process of naturalization 

The Department for Homeland Security describes naturalization as the “process by which U.S. Citizenship is granted to a foreign citizen or national after he or she fulfills the requirements established by Congress in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).”

What this means is that, upon grant of citizenship, you are afforded all the rights and protections that are given to any other U.S. Citizen. This includes such things as government benefits and funding assistance for college. 

To apply for naturalization, you need to meet the following criteria: 

  • Have held a Green Card for at least five years, or three years if you’re the spouse of a US citizen and demonstrate that you’ve been continuously residing in the US for this period
  • Be 18 years old at the time of filing
  • You must have been physically present in the US for at least 30 months, and
  • You need to show that you’ve been living in the state where you are claiming residence for the last 3 months

In addition to the above, you will be asked to take what’s called a “naturalization test”. This will show your ability to read, write and speak English as well as have a good understanding of US history and government. You’ll also be asked to show that you intend to support and defend the United States by taking an Oath of Allegiance. 

Citizenship applications can be complicated, especially when English is not your first language. Working with someone who understands how immigration laws work can give you the best chance of success.