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You are here: Information Center >> Immigration & Citizenship >> Naturalization

Naturalization

Do I have to live in the United States to be naturalized?

Yes. You will need to show your Form I-551, Alien Registration Receipt Card, as proof of your permanent resident status. To be eligible for naturalization, you must have lived continuously as a permanent resident in the United States for at least 5 years and been physically present in the United States for at least half of those 5 years. You must have lived within the state or district in which you file your application for at least 3 months before filing the application. Once you file your application for naturalization, you must reside continuously in the United States until you are granted citizenship.

What if I have left the country in the past 5 years? Can I still apply for naturalization?

If you leave the United States for more than 6 months but less than 1 year during the continuous residence period required for citizenship–either immediately preceding the date of filing your naturalization application or between the date of filing the application and the date of a hearing required for naturalization–you will be considered to have a break in the continuity of your residence, unless you can establish to the satisfaction of the Attorney General that you did not in fact abandon your residence in the United States.

I will be working outside of the United States because my employer is sending me overseas. Will this affect my residency for naturalization?

The law does make some allowances for workers. Absence from the United States for a continuous period of 1 year or more during the continuous residence requirement period breaks the continuity, except for a lawful permanent resident (green card holder) who was physically present and residing in the United States for an uninterrupted period of at least 1 year, and who is then employed by or under contract with the U.S. government or certain American or international companies, or is employed by a public international organization of which the United States is a member by treaty or statute, and by which the alien was not employed until after being lawfully admitted for permanent residence.

If your employer is one of those listed above, you will need to file a USCIS Form N-470, Application to Preserve Residence for Naturalization Purposes.

How old do I have to be to apply for naturalization?

Applicants must be at least 18 years old.

Will my 12-year-old daughter be naturalized as part of my naturalization?

Your daughter will automatically become a U.S. citizen when you become a U.S. citizen through naturalization, as long as she is less than 18 years old and legally resides with you in the United States.

I am a naturalized U.S. citizen and live abroad. My daughter did not live with me in America when I was naturalized. Can she become a naturalized U.S. citizen?

A parent who is a U.S. citizen may apply for naturalization on behalf of a child born outside of the United States who did not acquired citizenship automatically. You will have to establish that at least one parent is a citizen of the United States by birth or naturalization (or was at the time of his or her death). The U.S. citizen parent must have been physically present in the United States or its outlying possessions for periods of at least 5 years, 2 of which were after reaching the age of 14, or the citizen parent has a citizen parent who was physically present in the United States or its outlying possessions for periods of at least 5 years, 2 of which were after reaching the age of 14. The child must be under the age of 18. If the child resides outside of the United States, he or she must be in the legal and physical custody of the applicant or, if the citizen parent is deceased, an individual who does not object to the application. If the child resides in the United States, he or she must be in the country in a lawful status as a nonimmigrant.

What forms do I need to file to apply for naturalization?

You should use Form N-400, Application for Naturalization. You may download the form from the USCIS Web site or call the USCIS Forms Line at 800.870.3676 to request one.

How much does it cost to apply for naturalization?

The current fee is $320.

Where do I mail my naturalization forms?

It depends on which state you live in. You can check the USCIS Web site at http://www.uscis.gov/ to find out which Service Center to send your application. You will mail it to one of the four Service Centers in the country: California, Nebraska, Texas or Vermont.

Nebraska Service Center
Attention N-400 Unit
P.O. Box 87400
Lincoln, NE 68501-7400

Vermont Service Center
Attention N-400 Unit
75 Lower Weldon Street
St. Albans, VT 05479-0001

Texas Service Center
Attention N-400 Unit
P.O. Box 851204
Mesquite, TX 75185-1204

California Service Center
Attention N-400 Unit
P.O. Box 10400
Laguna Niguel, CA 92607-0400

I am a foreign national in the U.S. Navy. Can I apply for naturalization?

Yes. The USCIS has created a process especially for military personnel serving in active-duty status or those that have been recently discharged. You must demonstrate that you have good moral character, have knowledge of the English language and U.S. history and government, and demonstrate your allegiance to the United States by taking the oath of allegiance.

As a member of the U.S. military, do I have to meet all the residency and physical presence requirements for naturalization?

No. You may qualify for naturalization if you have served honorably for at least 1 year, are a lawful permanent resident (green card holder) and file your application for naturalization while in service or within 6 months of being discharged. If you served honorably during an authorized period of conflict as an active-duty member of the military, and were admitted as a lawful permanent resident (green card holder) after enlistment, or were physically in the United States or a qualifying territory at the time of enlistment, you may also qualify for naturalization.

I am a foreign national stationed overseas in the U.S. Armed Forces. How do I file my naturalization application?

The military base you serve at will have someone to help you file all the necessary forms. You will need to file Form N-400 (Application for Naturalization), Form G325B (Biographic Information) and Form N-426 (Request for Certification of Military or Naval Service). You must mail you application to the Nebraska Service Center:

Nebraska Service Center
PO Box 87426
Lincoln, NE 68501-7426

Will I have to be fingerprinted for my naturalization application?

Yes. After the appropriate Service Center receives your application, you will be notified where to go for fingerprinting.

What does the law mean by "good moral character" when applying for naturalization?

Generally, you must show must show that you have been a person of good moral character for the statutory period–typically 5 years, or 3 years if married to a U.S. citizen, or 1 year for Armed Forces expedite–before filing for naturalization. A finding that the applicant is not deportable will not be accepted as conclusive evidence of good moral character. In determining whether the applicant has sustained the burden of establishing good moral character and the other qualifications for citizenship, the USCIS is not limited to the applicant’s conduct during the 5 years preceding the filing of the application, but may take into consideration the applicant’s conduct and acts at any time prior to that period.

What are some crimes or acts that affect my "good moral character"?

You cannot be found to be a person of good moral character if during the past 5 years you:

  • have committed and been convicted of one or more crimes involving moral turpitude;
  • have committed and been convicted of two or more offenses for which the total sentence imposed was 5 years or more;
  • have committed and been convicted of any controlled substance law, except for a single offense of simple possession of 30 grams or less of marijuana;
  • have committed and been convicted of two or more gambling offenses;
  • are or have been involved in smuggling illegal aliens into the United States;
  • are or have been a habitual drunkard;
  • have willfully failed or refused to support dependents; or
  • have given false testimony, under oath, in order to receive a benefit under the Immigration and Nationality Act.

Who is barred from naturalization?

You are permanently barred from naturalization if you have ever been convicted of murder or an aggravated felony as defined in the Immigration and Nationality Act. Some of these felonies include rape, drug and weapons trafficking, money laundering, pornography or prostitution, fraud related crimes and security.

I was convicted of a crime, but it was only a misdemeanor. Do I have to disclose this on my naturalization application?

You must disclose all relevant facts to the USCIS, including your entire criminal history, even if the criminal history does not disqualify you under the naturalization laws.

How will I know when my naturalization interview is?

You will receive a notice in the mail telling you where and when your interview will be. Call the office where your interview is scheduled if you need to reschedule your interview time.

I missed my naturalization interview. What should I do?

If you miss your interview and you did not contact the interviewing office, your application will be administratively closed. You have one year to contact the office to reopen your application before it is denied.

What will I be asked during the naturalization interview?

Be sure to bring any documents listed on the notice sent to you scheduling your interview. At the interview you will be tested on your English skills and your knowledge of U.S. history and government. You will probably be asked to read several questions out loud and then answer them and then write several sentences in English. The test on U.S. history and government will be either oral or written. You will be asked under oath about your background, eligibility and application.

Do I have to know the U.S. Constitution if I am seeking naturalization?

You do not have to memorize every detail of the Constitution, but you must show that you are "attached" to the principles of the U.S. Constitution.

Do I have to speak English to apply for naturalization?

Applicants for naturalization must be able to read, write, speak and understand words in ordinary usage in the English language.

My mother is applying for naturalization. She is 65 years old and does not speak English very well. Can she get a waiver from the English language requirements?

Some applicants are exempt from the requirement that he or she be able to read, write, speak and understand words in ordinary usage in the English language. Individuals may be eligible for this exemption if, on the date of filing for naturalization, they:

  • have been living in the United States after lawful admission for permanent residence for periods totaling 15 years or more and are more than 55 years old;
  • have been living in the United States after lawful admission for permanent residence for periods totaling 20 years or more and are more than 50 years of age; or
  • have a medically determinable physical or mental impairment that affects their ability to learn English.

What kind of information will I have to learn for the naturalization test?

You must demonstrate a knowledge and understanding of the fundamentals of U.S. history and of the principles and form of the U.S. government.

Are there any exemptions from having to take the naturalization test?

Yes. You may be exempt from the test requirement if, on the date of filing, you have a medically determinable physical or mental impairment that affects your ability to learn U.S. history and government. In that case, you must file a USCIS Form N-648, Medical Certification for Disability Exceptions. You may be given special consideration if you have been living in the United States after lawful admission for permanent residence for at least 20 years and are more than 65 years old. "Special consideration" means that you can demonstrate your knowledge of U.S. history and government at a less demanding level. You will be asked 10 questions from the following list:

  1. Why do we celebrate the Fourth of July?
  2. Who was the first president of the United States?
  3. Who is the president of the United States today?
  4. What is the Constitution?
  5. What are the first 10 amendments to the Constitution called?
  6. Who elects Congress?
  7. How many senators are there in Congress?
  8. For how long do we elect each senator?
  9. For how long do we elect the representatives in Congress?
  10. Who nominates judges to the Supreme Court?
  11. What are the three branches of our government?
  12. What is the highest court in the United States?
  13. What major river running north to south divides the United States?
  14. The Civil War was fought over what important issue?
  15. Name the two major political parties in the United States today.
  16. How many states are there in the United States?
  17. What is the capital of the United States?
  18. What is the minimum voting age in the United States?
  19. Who was Martin Luther King, Jr.?
  20. What nation was first to land a man on the moon?
  21. What is the capital of your state?
  22. What is it called if the President refuses to sign a bill into law and returns it to Congress with his objections?
  23. What two oceans bound the United States?
  24. What famous American invented the electric light bulb?
  25. What is the national anthem of the United States?

You must answer six questions correctly to pass.

TIP: Learn more about the naturalization test—the USCIS has provided sample questions with answers on their Web site. You can access them at: http://www.uscis.gov/.

How do I know if my application for naturalization has been granted?

In some cases, you will find out at the end of your interview. In most cases, though, you will be notified later whether your application has been granted and told when and where your oath ceremony will be.

I have been told my naturalization application has been continued. What does this mean?

This means it will take additional time to complete your application. The most common reasons are that you failed the test on U.S. history and government or that the USCIS does not have all the documents required to make a decision on your case. You will be asked to retake the test and supply all necessary documents.

My application for naturalization was denied. What can I do?

The reason for your denial should be stated clearly in the notice sent to you. The notice will also contain directions on how you can request a hearing with an immigration officer.

Do I have to attend an oath ceremony for naturalization?

Yes, it is part of the naturalization process. Just because your application was granted does not mean you’ve been naturalized—you must attend the oath ceremony. You will be sent a notice telling you the day and time. In some cases, you may take it the same day as your interview. If you cannot make the scheduled oath ceremony, you must notify the office that sent you the notice and request to be rescheduled.

Do I have to swear allegiance to the United States?

Yes, to become a citizen, you must take the oath of allegiance. You must swear to support the Constitution and obey U.S. laws, renounce any foreign allegiance and/or foreign title and bear arms for the U.S. Armed Forces or perform services for the government of the United States when required.

I am a pacifist seeking naturalization. Do I have to recite that part of the oath that requires me to bear arms?

In certain instances, if you can establish that you are opposed to any type of service in armed forces based on religious teaching or belief, the USCIS will allow you to take a modified oath.

When will I receive my Certificate of Naturalization?

You will receive this after you have taken the oath of allegiance. This will prove your U.S. citizenship.