What are the US citizenship requirements?
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.
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.
- You must be able to read, write, speak and listen in English. There are some exceptions for disabled people or people over 50 who have lived in the United States for a long time. Read about the exceptions for older and disabled people in Attachment D.
- People who have served in the armed forces of the United States may be eligible to apply for citizenship. Learn more about eligibility through service.
- The official information from the United States government will tell you if you are eligible to apply for citizenship. Read online or download this document to see if you are eligible.
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.
- Where can I find free legal resources?
- How to get a green card or permanent residency
- Know your rights as an immigrant
- Know your rights as a refugee
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.
Pass your citizenship test!
Free online citizenship preparation classStart the class now