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Citizenship and Naturalization

Individuals are either born United States citizens or become United States citizens after birth. To become a citizen at birth, an individual was either born in the United States, born outside the United States territory if both parents are United States citizens and other requirements are met.

Additionally, an individual may become a U.S. citizen after birth through your parents by “deriving” citizenship from them if they naturalize or applying independently.


Naturalization is the process by which U.S. citizenship is granted to a foreign citizen or national after he/she fulfills a series of requirements established by law. You may qualify for citizenship through naturalization, in general, if:

(1) You have been a permanent resident for at least 5 years and meet all other eligibility requirements;

(2) You have been a permanent resident for 3 years or more and meet all eligibility requirements to file as a spouse of a U.S. citizen;

(3) You have qualifying service in the U.S. armed forces and meet all other eligibility requirements.

Other eligibility requirements include but are not limited to: being 18 years of older; meeting the continuous residence and physical presence requirement; residing for at least three months in the state where the application is being filed; being a person of "good moral character."

Each applicant must demonstrate knowledge of the English language, and pass a basic test on the history and government of the U.S. Waivers of the English requirement and civics test may be obtained in certain cases, depending on the facts and circumstances of each case. A physical or mental disability that impairs an applicant from adequately completing a test may serve as basis for a waiver. Also, the English test requirement may be waived when the applicant is of a certain age and has been a permanent resident for a certain number of years, depending on the case. A thorough analysis of the circumstances of the case is required in order to determine a person's eligibility for a waiver.

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