What is Naturalization Process?
Naturalization is the legal process through which a foreign citizen or national can become a U.S. citizen. In order to be naturalized, an applicant must first be qualified to apply for citizenship.
Generally, to be eligible for naturalization you must:
- Be age 18 or older; and
- Be a permanent resident for a certain amount of time (usually 5 years or 3 years, depending on how you obtained status);
- Be a person of good moral character; and
- Have a basic knowledge of U.S. government
(this, too, can be excepted due to permanent physical or mental impairment);
- Have a period of continuous residence and physical presence in the United States; and
- Be able to read, write, and speak basic English. There are exceptions to this rule for someone who at the time of filing:
- Is 55 years old and has been a permanent resident for at least 15 years; or
- Is 50 years old and has been a permanent resident for at least 20 years; or
- Has a permanent physical or mental impairment that makes the individual unable to fulfill these requirements.
If qualified, the person must complete an application, attend an interview, and pass an English and a civics test. Upon successful completion of these steps, the applicant takes an oath of loyalty, and becomes a citizen. These legal requirements help the immigration service ensure that only those people who are sincere in their desire to become Americans become naturalized.