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Naturalization and Citizenship 101: Naturalization Process

This is a guide on how to navigate the U.S. Citizenship and Naturalization Process with links to guides, organizations, and other resources to help you through the process from start to finish.

Citizenship Forms and Eligibility Requirements

Introduction Videos:


*For any other forms go to

*For more information on the 2020 Version of the Civics Test go to

General Requirements:
  • Must be 18 years old at the time of filing the N-400 form
  • You must be “lawfully” admitted to the U.S. as a permanent resident
Permanent Resident (2 ways qualify for citizenship):
  • You must be in U.S. 5 years as a lawful permanent resident
  • You must be in U.S. 3 years as a married spouse of a legal U.S. Citizen
Continuous Residence (must maintain):
  • “Continuous Residence” means the applicant has maintained general residence within the United States for the required period of time.  Extended absences outside of the U.S. may disrupt an applicant’s continuous residence
  • Absences between 6 months and 1 year may disrupt an applicants "continuous residence" unless proven otherwise by the applicant
  • Absences in excess of 1 year or more during the period of "continuous residence" will disrupt applicants "continuous residence"
Physical Presence (time spent in U.S.):
  • "Physical Presence" is the actual time the applicant has been present in the U.S.  It measures the total number of days applicants are in the U.S.
  • The "physical presence" requirement changes depending on how applicant qualifies for citizenship
  • "Physical presence" is cumulative and trips outside the U.S. count against the requirement
Where Application is filed:
  • Applicants must live in the USCIS District or state where they apply for naturalization for at 3 least months before filing
  • Students who are 18 and older may apply for naturalization within their school's jurisdiction, or if they are financially dependent on their parents and live where their parents live
  • Applicants can move after filing N-400
Good Moral Character:
  • All applicants must demonstrate “Good Moral Character” throughout the statutory period and up to administration of Oath of Allegiance
  • Commission of certain crimes during statutory period is an example that demonstrates lack the of "good moral character"
  • The statutory period changes based on how the applicant qualifies for naturalization
Educational Requirements:
  • Applicants must demonstrate an ability to read, write, speak, and understand English
  • Applicants must have a basic knowledge of U.S. History and Government
  • Certain applicants may be exempt from the English requirements because the applicant meets certain age and time requirements as a permanent resident
  • Applicants unable to comply with the educational requirements because of a medically determinable physical or mental impairment may request an exemption by filing the Medical Certification for Disability Exceptions Form N-648
Citizenship Exemptions:
  • At the time of filing N-400
  • Age 50, lived in US as Permanent Resident for 20 years the applicant is exempt from English Test, but must take civics test in language of choice
  • Age 55 lived in US as Permanent Resident for 15 years the applicant is exempt from English Test, but must take civics test in language of choice
  • Age 65, lived in US as Permanent Resident for 20 years the applicant is exempt from English test, but must take simplified civics test in the language of choice
Disability Exemptions:
  • Applicants who are unable to meet educational requirements due to a medically determinable physical or mental impairment may request an exemption by filing out the Medical Certification for Disability Exceptions Form N-648
  • A medical professional must determine if an applicant qualifies for the  exemption based on a medical evaluation
  • This medical condition may exempt applicant from both the English and Civics parts of the test, or just one of the two parts
Member of U.S. Armed Forces:
  • Members of U.S. Armed  Forces are not charged filing fees related to U.S. Citizenship Forms N-400, N-336, and N-600
  • Continuous residence and or physical presence requirements may be waved for military personnel
  • See Brochure Naturalization Information for Military Personnel, Form M-599 and speak to Personnel Services/Family Connections Office on base for assistance
Attachment to the U.S. Constitution:
  • Applicants must show a willingness to support and defend the principles of the Constitution and the laws of the United States
  • Applicants declare their “attachment” or loyalty to the United States and its Constitution by taking the Oath of Allegiance at an oath ceremony
  • Applicants placed under oath
  • USCIS Officer reviews Form N-400 and determines if the applicant has met the eligibility requirements
  • The naturalization test is administered.  If applicant fails any portion of this test they are given a second opportunity to be tested in the areas failed.
  • If additional information is required to establish eligibility, the case is continued and a written request for additional documentation is issued to the applicant
Naturalization Ceremony:
  • If Form N-400 is approved, applicants will be scheduled for an oath ceremony to recite the oath of allegiance to the United States
  • An applicant becomes a naturalized U.S. citizen only after reciting the oath of allegiance
  • Certificates of Naturalization are prepared and issued at the ceremony as proof of citizenship.