Requirements for U.S. Citizenship

Are you ready to become a US citizen? First, make sure you are eligible to apply. Learn about the basic US citizenship requirements. Read details about requirements for spouses and family members

Wilson Kubwayo in audience at citizenship ceremony

US citizenship requirements

In order to apply for citizenship, you must generally meet the following requirements:

  • You must be at least 18 years old.
  • For most people, you must have lived in the United States for at least five years as a resident. However, if your husband or wife is a citizen, you may be able to apply after three years. Read more about eligibility for spouses.
  • You need to have lived in the same location for the past three months.
  • You must not have had significant trips outside of the USA. Vacations and short trips to see family overseas are okay, but if you have had long trips, it might be a good idea to speak to a lawyer before applying to make sure you qualify. You can read more about physical presence and continuous requirements.
  • You must have no major criminal activity. Small offenses, such as a traffic ticket, are okay, but you cannot be convicted of any major crimes. Always be honest about this because most small crimes are okay, but if you lie on your application, this can make your application get rejected. You might even get deported. If you have been convicted of a crime, it is very important to talk to a lawyer. They will let you know what to do.
  • You must study and learn about the United States government, economy, and history so that you can pass the Civics exam.

The official information from the United States government will confirm if you are eligible to apply for citizenship. Read online or download this document to see if you are eligible.

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How to apply

There are many steps in the naturalization process:

  • Complete and mail the required paperwork.
  • Complete a background check.
  • Complete an interview with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Officer.
  • Take a short English language test where you read and speak a sentence in English.
  • Take a Civics Exam on US history and government. On this exam, you must answer 6 out of 10 questions correctly about US Civics, History and Government.
  • Take the Oath of Allegiance where you pledge loyalty to the USA.

You can find more details about all these steps when you are ready to learn how to apply for citizenship.

The information on this page comes from USCIS and other trusted sources. It is intended for guidance and is updated as often as possible. USAHello does not give legal advice, nor are any of our materials intended to be taken as legal advice. If you are looking for a free or low-cost lawyer or legal help, we can help you find free and low-cost legal services.