Naturalization Requirements

How to become a U.S. citizen

The process of applying for a U.S. citizenship is called naturalization. Before applying for your U.S. citizenship, you must first meet the following requirements:

  • Live in the U.S. for at least five years as a permanent resident or three years if married to and living with a U.S. citizen.
  • Have been present in the U.S. for at least 30 months out of the past five years or 18 months out of the past three years if married to and living with a U.S. citizen.
  • Have been living in a state or USCIS district for at least three months before applying.

Different requirements may apply if one of the following is true for you:

  • You, or your deceased parent, spouse, or child, have served in the U.S. Armed Forces.
  • You are a U.S. national. You or your parents were born on American soil.
  • You obtained permanent residence through the 1986 amnesty law.
  • You are a refugee or seeking asylum.
  • You are married to a U.S. citizen who is regularly stationed abroad.
  • You lost U.S. citizenship under prior law because of marriage to a non-citizen.
  • You are an employee of certain types of companies or nonprofit organizations.

naturalization requirements

The general requirements for naturalization are:

1. Live in the U.S. as a permanent resident for a specific amount of time (Continuous Residence).

2. Be present in the U.S. for specific time periods (Physical Presence).

3. Spend a specific amount of time in your state or USCIS district (Time in State or USCIS District).

4. Behave in a legal and acceptable manner (Good Moral Character).

5. Competent English skills and knowledge about U.S. history and government (English and Civics).

6. Understand and accept the principles of the U.S. Constitution (Attachment to the Constitution).

Information on Naturalization 

For people 18 years or older who want to become U.S. citizens, we recommend reading Form M-476, A Guide to Naturalization. This guide has important information about the requirements for naturalization. It also describes the forms you will need to complete in order to begin the naturalization process.

To see if you are eligible to apply for naturalization, see Form M-480, Naturalization Eligibility Worksheet, at the end of A Guide to Naturalization. Use Form N-400 to apply for naturalization. There is a fee to file Form N-400.

The forms M-476, M-480 and N-400 can be found on the official USCIS website: or you can contact the USCIS document service under the  number 1-800-870-3676.