Naturalization is the legal act or process by which a non-citizen in a country may acquire citizenship or nationality of that country.


Naturalization is the legal process by which a person not born in the United States voluntarily becomes a U.S. citizen after he or she fulfills the requirements established in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). U.S. citizenship gives a person as many rights as the U.S. has to offer; for example, the right to vote, petition for family members to immigrate, and live abroad without losing the right to return.

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) states that applicant for naturalization must meet the following requirements:

  • applicant must be at least 18 years old;
  • applicant must be a permanent resident (have a “Green Card”) and have resided in the U.S. continuously for the past five years;
  • applicant must be a person of good moral character, including an applicant’s criminal history;
  • he must demonstrated commitment to upholding the U.S. Constitution’s principles;
  • he must be able to read, write, and speak some English;
  • he must pass the Immigration Test about U.S. Government and History knowledge;
  • Taking the Oath of Allegiance.

The application for citizenship must be completed and filed along with supporting documentation. An applicant needs to complete a citizenship application on Form N-400 and send it in with a copy of the green card, the required photos, and the appropriate fee. The applicant should submit evidence that they have filed taxes during their time as a resident.

After filing your application, you will probably wait for months. First, you will be called in for a fingerprint appointment, and later an interview appointment.

The interview consists of a review of the application for accuracy, during which time the officer also assesses the applicant’s English proficiency and knowledge of U.S. history and government.

If the application is approved you will receive an appointment for a swearing-in ceremony. At the ceremony, a group of approved applicants participate in taking an oath and receive certificates of naturalization that confer and prove citizenship.

A qualified naturalization lawyer can address your particular legal needs, explain the law, and represent you in court. You can find an attorney in your area who can assist you with your naturalization and citizenship issues or answer any other questions you may have.

Thomas Elliott

Education: Brooklyn Law School, Brooklyn, New York. Pace University, White Plains, New York.
Professional Associations and Memberships: American Bar Association, New York State Bar, The Association of the Bar of the City of New York, Brooklyn Bar Association, National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA).

Rate author
Cases legal