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There are two separate terms – “citizenship” refers to birthright or derivative, and the other term is “naturalization”. Birthright citizenship refers to automatically becoming a citizen from birth. Whereas, derivative citizenship is based on citizenship derived from one parent. While naturalization is becoming a citizen after meeting certain criteria and filing an application. 


What are the naturalization requirements?

  1. Permanent residence (having a green card) for five years (or three years if married to a US citizen).
  2. Also Show that were physically present in the US for 30 months (or for 18 months if you are married to U.S. citizen),
  3. And Can speak, read and write basic English, and have an understanding of U.S. history and government, and
  4. In addition, you support the U.S. Constitution and you are willing to swear an oath to the United States, and
  5. Finally that you are a person of “good moral character.”

What does “good moral character” really mean?

“Good moral character” is a catch-all requirement. The definition is in Section 101(f) of the Immigration and Naturalization Act (INA). In general, it means that the applicant in the last 5 years, immediately preceding the application for naturalization was:

  1. Not arrested, or if an arrest, the crime does not disqualify
  2. If there was an arrest, not currently on probation, parole,
  3. Reporting income on your tax returns
  4. No immigration fraud
  5. Did not fail to support dependents
  6. for certain male residents that registered with the selective service, and
  7. and other factors.

What are the steps to applying for naturalization?

  • Submitting application with your documents and the filing fees and
  • Also attending a fingerprinting appointment
  • In addition attending the interview and test
  • Finally, the oath of allegiance ceremony

Let’s go through the steps

For naturalization the application is N-400 Application for Naturalization. When submitting it must be mailed out with the filing fee and all the required documents.

The interview and test –

After you attend the fingerprinting appointment, you will get a letter with the specific date a and time for your interview. But you should use the time the fingerprinting to prepare for the interview and test. At the interview the officer will review your personal information on the application. After that you will be tested on how you can read and write English and also the US history and civics. You can find study materials for the test here.

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