Citizenship Through Naturalization

Naturalization is the process by which U.S. citizenship is granted to a foreign citizen or national after he or she fulfills the requirements established by Congress in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).
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How to Apply for Naturalization

To apply for naturalization, file Form N-400, Application for Naturalization.
 We also provide educational materials to help you prepare for the English, U.S. history and civics portions of the naturalization test, including:

If you are in the military and are interested in becoming a U.S. citizen, please see the M-599, Naturalization Information for Military guide.

You May Qualify for Naturalization if:

  • You have been a permanent resident for at least 5 years and meet all other eligibility requirements, please visit our Path to Citizenship page for more information.
  • You have been a permanent resident for 3 years or more and meet all eligibility requirements to file as a spouse of a U.S. citizen, please visit our Naturalization for Spouses of U.S. Citizens page for more information.
  • You have qualifying service in the U.S. armed forces and meet all other eligibility requirements. Visit theMilitary section of our website.
  • Your child may qualify for naturalization if you are a U.S. citizen, the child was born outside the U.S., the child is currently residing outside the U.S., and all other eligibility requirements are met. 
You may qualify through other paths to naturalization if you do not qualify through the paths described in the links to the left. See also the USCIS Policy Manual Citizenship and Naturalization Guidance and our A Guide to Naturalization guide. Chapter 4 of the guide discusses who is eligible for naturalization.
Note: You may already be a U.S. citizen and not need to apply for naturalization if your biological or adoptive parent(s) became a U.S. citizen before you reached the age of 18. 


Continuous Residence and Physical Presence Requirements for Naturalization

Continuous Residence
Applicants are required to show that they have:
  • Resided continuously in the U.S. for five years before applying, , or
  • Resided continuously in the U.S. for three years in the case of qualified spouses of U.S. citizens, 
“Continuous residence” means that the applicant has maintained residence within the United States for the required period of time shown above.
Extended absences outside of the U.S. may disrupt an applicant’s continuous residence.
  • Absences of more than six months but less than one year may disrupt an applicant’s continuous residence unless the applicant can prove otherwise.
  • Absences in excess of one year or more may disrupt an applicant’s continuous residence
Physical Presence
Applicants are required to show that they were:
  • Physically present in the U.S. for thirty months within the five year period before applying, or (see legal basis)
  • Physically present in the U.S. for eighteen months within the three year period before applying in the case of qualified spouses of U.S. citizens (see legal basis)
In addition, applicants are required to show they have resided for at least three months immediately preceding the filing of Form N-400 in the USCIS district or state where the applicant claims to have residency (See 8 CFR§316.2(a)(5) & §319.1(a)(5)).
Exceptions
Section 316 paragraphs (b), (c), and (f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act allows for certain exceptions to the continuous residence requirement for those applicants working abroad for:
  • The United States government, including the Military
  • Contractors of the United States government
  • A recognized American institution of research 
  • A public international organization
  • An organization designated under the International Immunities Act
If you seek to preserve your continuous residence for naturalization purposes while employed abroad by one of these recognized institutions you must file Form N-470, Application to Preserve Residence for Naturalization Purposes with USCIS.  
An organization may obtain USCIS recognition as an American institution of research for the purpose of preserving the continuous residence stay