Immigration and Nationality
Naturalization Requirements

The following are general requirements for a
lawful permanent resident to be eligible for naturalization.  It should also be noted that there are some variation on these requirements under certain circumstances for certain groups such as lawful permanent residents who obtained their green cards based on a marriage to a United States citizen and lawful permanent residents who are US military personnel.

An applicant must be at least 18 years old, and have been lawfully admitted to the United States for permanent residence.  Immediately preceding the filing of the application, the applicant must:
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  • Have been lawfully admitted for permanent residence;
  • Have resided continuously as a lawful permanent resident in the U.S. for at least 5 years prior to filing with no single absence from the United States of more than one year;
  • Have been physically present in the U.S. for at least 30 months out of the previous five years (absences of more than six months but less than one year shall disrupt the applicant's continuity of residence unless the applicant can establish that he or she did not abandon his or her residence during such period); and
  • Have resided within a state or district for at least three months.
An applicant must show that he or she is attached to the principles of the Constitution of the United States.  He or she must also be able to read, write, speak, and understand words in ordinary usage in the English language, and must demonstrate a knowledge and understanding of the fundamentals of the history and of the principles and form of government of the United States.  Some exemptions from these two requirements are allowed.

Good Moral Character

Generally, an applicant must show that he or she has been a person of good moral character for the statutory period prior to filing for
naturalization.  The USCIS is not limited to the statutory period in determining whether an applicant has established good moral character.  An applicant is permanently barred from naturalization if he or she has ever been convicted of murder, or has been convicted of an "aggravated felony" as defined by the immigration laws.  A person also cannot be found to be a person of good moral character if during the last five years he or she:
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  • Has committed and been convicted of one or more crimes involving moral turpitude;
  • Has committed and been convicted of 2 or more offenses for which the total sentence imposed was 5 years or more;
  • Has committed and been convicted of any controlled substance law, except for a single offense of simple possession of 30 grams or less of marijuana;
  • Has been confined to a penal institution during the statutory period, as a result of a conviction, for an aggregate period of 180 days or more;
  • Has committed and been convicted of two or more gambling offenses;
  • Is or has earned his or her principal income from illegal gambling;
  • Is or has been involved in prostitution or commercialized vice;
  • Is or has been involved in smuggling illegal aliens into the United States;
  • Is or has been a habitual drunkard;
  • Is practicing or has practiced polygamy;
  • Has willfully failed or refused to support dependents; or
  • Has given false testimony, under oath, in order to receive a benefit under the Immigration and Nationality Act.
Oath of Allegiance

Finally, to become a citizen, one must take the oath of allegiance.  By doing so, an applicant swears to:
  • Support the Constitution and obey the laws of the U.S.;
  • Renounce any foreign allegiance and/or foreign title; and
  • Bear arms for the Armed Forces of the U.S. or perform services for the government of the U.S. when required.
If you are interested in retaining legal assistance in applying for naturalization, please contact us.
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