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Naturalization is the process by which foreign nationals are granted United States citizenship. To become a United States citizen, a foreign national must be a lawful permanent resident, and also meet the other requirements listed below.

Benefits of Becoming a United States Citizen

For lawful permanent residents, there are many benefits to becoming a naturalized United States citizen including (but not limited to):

  • Eligibility to vote;
  • Eligibility to run for and hold all elected offices except President of the United States;
  • Right to travel to and from the United States on a United States passport;
  • Eligibility for certain government jobs and benefits; and
  • Priority in many cases over lawful permanent residents when petitioning to bring family members permanently to the United States.


In order to be eligible for naturalization, a foreign national must meet the following requirements:

  • The applicant must be at least 18 years of age.
  • The applicant must have been a continuous resident in the United States as a lawful permeant resident for at least five years. If the foreign national received their lawful permanent residence through marriage to a United States citizen, and is still married to their United States citizen spouse, they are eligible for naturalization after three years of being a lawful permanent resident.
    • An applicant’s time outside of the United States may impact the continuous residency requirement. If an individual leaves the United States for between six to twelve months, there is a presumption that the individual did not intend to continue to continuously reside in the United States. This presumption is rebuttable by providing evidence that the individual did not intend to break their continuous residence in the United States. An absence of a year or more, automatically breaks continuous residency.
  • The applicant must have been physically present in the United States for half of the five years preceding the application. If the applicant is applying for naturalization based on marriage to a Untied States citizen spouse, then the applicant must have been physically present for half of the previous three years preceding the application.
  • The applicant must be a person of good moral character.
  • The applicant must have lived in the state, or the USCIS district where the application is being filed for at least the previous three months prior to filing the application.
  • The applicant must reside continuously in the United States from the date the application is filed until they are naturalized (take the oath of citizenship).
  • The applicant must be able to speak, read, and write in English (with exceptions for certain long-term United States residents over a certain age, and persons with certain medical disabilities).
  • The applicant must pass a test covering United States history and civics.

The Application Process

A lawful permanent resident applies for naturalization by completing USCIS Form N-400. An application for naturalization can be filed beginning four years and nine months after an individual is granted permanent residence. If applying for naturalization based on being married to a United States citizen spouse, an applicant can apply for naturalization beginning two years and nine months after becoming a permanent resident.

After the application is submitted, an applicant will first be scheduled for a biometrics (fingerprint) appointment, and later an interview with a USCIS officer. During the interview, the USCIS officer will test the applicant’s ability to read and write English (with exceptions for certain long-term United States residents over a certain age, and persons with certain medical disabilities). The applicant will also be given an orally administered test of ten United States history and civics questions. An applicant must correctly answer six of the ten questions.

If everything goes well at the interview, and the application is approved, an applicant will receive an appointment in the mail for their naturalization oath ceremony. It is at this ceremony, where the individual will officially become an Untied States citizen.

Speak to a Qualified Immigration Lawyer Today

If you or a family member are thinking about naturalization, Hartzman Law Firm is here to help.

Attorney Hartzman is experienced in the laws relating to naturalization and has assisted many individuals through the naturalization process. At Hartzman Law Firm, we will assist you in gathering the documents needed for your application, preparing and filing your application, preparing you for your interview with USCIS, and attending your interview with you.

If you would like to learn more about how Hartzman Law Firm can help you apply for citizenship, please call us at (412) 495-9849 or fill out a contact form online. We offer free consultations in person, by phone, and by secure video conferencing. Weekend consultations are also available by request.

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