Citizenship Through Naturalization
Foreign-born adults—individuals 18 years or older—must have a green card before applying for citizenship. The Alcorn Immigration Law team can help.
An active member or veteran of the U.S. Army, Navy, Marine Corp, Air Force, Coast Guard, or National Guard may be eligible for expedited or overseas naturalization. Many military installations have a designated liaison U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
In most cases, once an adult becomes a U.S. citizen, her/his children under the age of 18 who were born outside the U.S. also become U.S. citizens—and are eligible for a Certificate of Citizenship.
An individual 18 years or older may qualify for citizenship if one of the following applies:
- The individual has been a permanent resident (has had a green card) for at least 5 years. If the individual is employed by the U.S. government, including the military, the individual is eligible for special exemptions.
- The individual has been a permanent resident for at least 3 years and is married to a U.S. citizen, who has been a U.S. citizen during those 3 years. If an individual with a green card is married to a U.S. citizen employed by the U.S. government—including the military—and the spouse will be working or stationed outside the U.S., the individual is eligible for special exemptions.
Individuals must meet the following conditions to apply for citizenship:
- Lived in a state or USCIS district for at least 3 months before applying. Students may apply either where they go to school or where their family lives if they are still financially dependent on their parents. Active military and veterans are exempt from this requirement. Other individuals exempt from this requirement are described below.
- Be physically present in the U.S. for at least 30 months out of the 5 years—or 18 months out of the 3 years if married to a U.S. citizen—immediately preceding application. Active military, veterans are exempt from this requirement. Other individuals exempt from this requirement are described below.
- Reside continuously in the U.S. from the application date until the time of naturalization. Active military and veterans are exempt from this requirement. Other individuals exempt from this requirement are described below.
- Be able to read, write, and speak English and know U.S. history and government (civics). Applicants must take both an English test and a civics test. (USCIS offers study materials.)
- Be a person of good moral character, support and defend the U.S. Constitution and the laws of the U.S.
An individual who is married to a U.S. citizen employed by the U.S. government (including the military) and the individual’s spouse will be stationed outside the U.S. for at least a year as part of her/his employment, must:
- Show she/he will depart immediately after naturalization and will reside in the U.S. immediately upon the end of the spouse’s employment abroad.
- Must meet all the requirements listed above, except:
- No minimum number of years as a green card holder is required.
- No minimum number of years of continuous residence or physical presence in the U.S. is required.
- No minimum number of years married is required. However, the marriage must be valid at the time of application.
To apply for citizenship, a individual, who is not active military or a veteran, must:
- Fill out Form N-400 (Application for Naturalization). Instructions, as well as documentation an applicant will need to include with the form are also available at this link.
- Submit Form N-400, required photos, documentation, and filing fee to the appropriate USCIS address for the state in which you reside. Go to the USCIS Application for Naturalization page and click on “Where to File.”
To apply for citizenship, a member of the military or a veteran must:
- Fill out Form N-400 (Application for Naturalization) to USCIS. Instructions for how to fill out the form, as well as documentation an applicant will need to include with the form are also available at this link.
- Fill out Form N-426 (Request for Certification of Military or Naval Service). The military must certify this form prior to sending it to USCIS
- Submit Form N-400 and certified Form N-426, required photos, documentation, and filing fee to USCIS. Go to the USCIS page for Citizenship for Military Personnel & Family Members for more info.
After USCIS receives your application, it will:
- Give you an appointment to get your biometrics (fingerprints and photograph) taken. You will need to pay the biometric fee.
- Set up an interview, during which you will be asked questions about your application and your background, as well as take an English test and a civics test.
- Inform you of the date for your Oath of Allegiance Ceremony date if your application has been approved.
We Can Help
The Alcorn Immigration Law team helps individuals and their families apply for everything from visas to citizenship, as well as find the best solution to stay and work in the U.S. If you have any questions, contact us.