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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).

Naturalization Eligibility

To be eligible for naturalization, you must:

  • Be age 18 or older
  • Be a lawful permanent resident of the United States for 5 years (or 3 years if married to a U.S. citizen for a minimum of the 3 years – although there are certain exceptions to this requirement for persons who have honorable service in the U.S. Armed Forces);
  • Be physically present in the United States for over 50% of the required residency period (3 or 5 years);
  • Be a person of good moral character;
  • Take an oath of loyalty to the United States;
  • Be able to speak, read and write simple words and phrases in the English language (although there are certain exceptions to this rule); and
  • Pass a test in US history and government.

Once you become a citizen of the United States, you may sponsor your spouse, parents, sons and daughters as well as your brothers and sisters for lawful permanent residence in the U.S.

Some persons may obtain US citizenship at birth, or while they are minors, through their U.S. citizen parents or grandparents. This is known as acquiring US citizenship through acquisition or derivation.

U.S. Citizenship Test

Persons who wish to become naturalized citizens of the United States must take and pass a US citizenship test. The test consists of 10 questions about U.S. history and government. The applicant is required to answer at least 6 of these questions correctly. Practice tests are available through USCIS at

Derivative Citizenship

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