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Citizenship Requirements

There are a variety of technical requirements that must be met so that you can achieve citizenship; these requirements fall into four categories which are mostly based upon time and location.

citizenship requirements
  • The amount of time you have held a green card or permanent resident status is one of the first things that the USCIS considers. You must be a legal resident in the United States for a period of time (generally no more than 5 years). This does not necessarily mean that you had to have lived in the United States for that entire period of time that is a different requirement. For the purpose of this requirement you must have held a valid green card for a certain number of years.
  • Another requirement is that you must have lived in the United States continuously for a period of time. However, depending upon your other requirements this may be waived. In the majority of cases you have to have lived in the United States for 5 years without interruption. Continuous residence is said to be broken when you leave the country for more than six months. This can be a somewhat confusing requirement so her is an example:
    • Say you lived in the United States for four years as a legal permanent resident.
      That means that you only have one more year to go before you qualify for citizenship.
      However, you decide that you need to take care of some sort of issue outside of the country and it takes you two years to resolve it. This means that your continuous residence has been broken and those four years that you lived in the United States no longer count. However, the government allows you to count a year minus one day to your continuous residence count upon return from your trip abroad simply by dint of your permanent resident status. So, now that you have returned you must wait four years and one day to qualify for citizenship.
  • You must also meet a time requirement that insists that you are physically present within the United States for up to 30 months. Even if you have not broken your continuous residence in the United States you may have been outside of the country frequently enough to be disqualified for this requirement. Be sure to carefully count up the days that you were actually in the United States.
  • Also, you will also be required to spend a certain amount of time in a state before being able to apply for citizenship.

All of these requirements are dependent upon how you are trying to apply for citizenship. There is a great variety of these routes and you should examine them to see which ones you qualify for. Here are a few of the more popular routes:

  • If you are 18 years old and have held permanent residence for five years or more you are eligible for citizenship. The vast majority of naturalized citizens go through this route. You must also continuously reside in the United States, be physically present in the country for 30 months and spend 3 months in your residence before you apply for citizenship.
  • You may also be eligible for citizenship if you are married and living with a United States citizen. Your spouse must have been a citizen for the three years preceding the application and you must be married for that period of time as well. You must also have continuously resided in the United States for three years, be present in the united states for 18 months and have lived in a particular state or district for three months before applying for citizenship.
  • You are eligible for citizenship if you have served in the United States military. If you have served for more than one year and are filing six month in advance of a voluntary discharge you will just need to be a permanent resident on the day of your interview. This is the full extent of the requirements for this route to citizenship.

Once you have qualified for citizenship and met all of the necessary requirements it is time to file your application! For more information on the citizenship application you can click here.

Eligibility for Citizenship

Aside from the above mentioned citizenship requirements which are variable and depend upon which route you wish to take to naturalization, there are some requirements that everyone, with few exceptions, must meet:

  • You should be proficient in speaking, writing and reading the English language. There are exceptions to this requirement, but learning the English language may be useful considering it is the most common language in the United States.
  • You must also be very familiar with the history and government of the United States. Aside from a debilitating condition, there is no exception for this requirement. As a matter of course, it would behoove you to have a good deal of knowledge about the United States government since it would make you more familiar with the rights that you will be granted.
  • You must also be a person of good moral character. This is a requirement that the USCIS officer will consider throughout the course of your application and is subject to a bit of variation. Things that might disqualify you from this requirement may be a serious or chronic criminal record, a history of being irresponsibly drunk or affiliation with radical or terrorist groups.

Citizenship Benefits

Becoming a United States citizen entitles you to a multitude of rights and privileges that only United States citizens can enjoy. Some of the rights that you will be provided are:

  • You can vote in federal, state and local elections. Americans are quite proud of the United States democratic process.
  • As a citizen, you will find that bringing relatives and loved ones into the United States is much easier since citizens are afforded preference over permanent residents.
  • With a United States passport you will have the protection of the federal government when you travel abroad.
  • With citizenship you can get a government job and even be elected to office. However, depending upon what office it is you may have to wait a set amount of time before being eligible for election.