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Five years of continuous residence in the U.S. are required after an applicant obtains permanent residence unless the applicant has been continuously married to a U.S. citizen living in a marital union for not less than three years and has had permanent residence for not less than three years. The process may be started three months prior to meeting these requirements. At the interview, it is necessary to pass an examination in English showing comprehension of reading and writing and speaking English and passing a civics exam. If the applicant is over 55 and has been a permanent resident for not less than 15 years, he/she may take the exam in his/her’s own language; if over 50 and a permanent resident for not less than 20 years, then the exemption from English applies too. A spouse or child who obtained permanent residence because of domestic abuse may also apply after obtaining permanent residence for not less than three years.


For naturalization, an applicant must be at least 18 years of age, and have been a resident of the State where he/she lives for at least 3 months. The continuous residence requirement is fulfilled if the applicant has been physically present in the U.S. for at least half of the required time. The physical presence and residence requirement may be waived in special circumstances such as that a U.S. citizen spouse of the applicant is employed abroad by the U.S. Government or for an international organization in which the U.S. participant by treaty or statute, or an American research institution accredited by the Department of Homeland Security, or religious ministry or an American firm or its subsidiary developing foreign trade.

An absence of more than one year by a permanent resident violates the continuous residence requirement. Absence for more than six months but less than one year, raises a question about continuous residence, but can be overcome by a reasonable explanation.


Good moral character for the most recent five year period or for a spouse of a U.S. citizen three years good moral character must be shown. Knowing false testimony or a conviction involving a sentence of more than six months would bar a naturalization application. Other bars would include non-support of dependents, adultery tending to destroy an existing marriage, failing to wilfully or knowingly to register for Selective Service between the ages 18 and 36, even though these actions had not resulted in criminal convictions, would ban citizenship.


A child born outside the U.S., who is under 18 and whose parent is naturalized and the child is residing in the U.S. with lawful permanent residence at the time of the parent’s naturalization, or who began to reside permanently in the U.S. under the age of 18 and who was in the custody of that parent, may under the present law, viz, the Child Citizen Act, obtain U.S. citizenship on the naturalization of the custodial parent. A U.S. passport may be applied for without obtaining a Certificate of Citizenship.

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