So You Want To Be A U.S. Citizen? – 3 Questions About the U.S. Naturalization Process

When Congress enacted the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), they established naturalization, the process by which foreign citizens or nationals could be granted U.S. citizenship. Here are some common questions about the process.
How can I qualify for citizenship through naturalization?

  • You must be at least 18 years old.
  • You have been a lawful permanent resident for five years OR you are married to a U.S. citizen, received your green card through a USC, and have been a lawful permanent resident for three years.
  • You never deserted from the U.S. armed forces.
  • You exhibit good moral character.
  • You have been physically present in the United States for 30 months out of the previous five years — three years if you’re married to a U.S. citizen — prior to applying for citizenship.
  • You can read, write, and speak basic English, are familiar with the fundamentals of U.S. history, and can pass the civics test.
  • You understand and are willing to take an oath of allegiance to the United States and support the Constitution.

Do I have to take the civics test in English?

If you are over the age of 50 and have lived in the U.S. for at least 20 years since becoming a lawful permanent resident, or you’re over the age of 55 and have lived in the U.S. for at least 15 years since becoming a lawful permanent resident, then you can take the civics test in your native language.

Additionally, if you have a disability that would prevent you from passing the civics test and you have a doctor complete and sign a Medical Certification for Disability Exceptions, then you do not have to take the test.

What if I have an old criminal conviction?

Some criminal convictions over five years old may not disqualify you from naturalization, though you want to contact your lawyer to know for sure.

Naturalization is a daunting but important process for immigrants seeking U.S. citizenship. If you want to apply for citizenship through naturalization, call our office at 607-753-5383 and we can help you get through the process.