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Constitution Week/ Constitution Day/ Citizenship Day

How to obtain U.S. citizenship

  • Anyone born in the United States is  a citizen.
  • Someone who is born to a U.S. citizen parent is a citizen. 
  • For someone who is not a U.S. citizen by birth, the process of becoming a citizen is called naturalization.
  • Applying for citizenship requires a 20 page form with 18 pages of instructions, and numerous documents such as birth certificates, marriage certificates, divorce decrees, tax returns, pay stubs, etc.
  • The application fee is $725.

Who can apply?

While there are some exceptions for spouses of U.S. citizens, immigrants serving in the U.S. military, and children, the general requirements are that the immigrant applying for citizenship must 

  • Be at least 18 years of age;
  • Be a lawful permanent resident (green card holder);
  • Have resided in the United States as a lawful permanent resident for at least five years (three years for spouses of U.S. citizens);
  • Have been physically present in the United States for at least 30 months;
  • Be a person of good moral character;
  • Be able to speak, read, write and understand the English language;
  • Have knowledge of U.S. government and history; and
  • Be willing and able to take the Oath of Allegiance

How long do you wait?

For permanent residents who qualify and apply, the line from application to citizenship can be very long. In 2017, the backlog of citizenship applications to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) grew to 735,000. The Official USCIS Calculator says someone who files a completed N-400 form and all necessary documents will wait 15-19.5 months for a decision. The wait time varies from state to state, and in some places is as long as two years.