How to Become a U.S. Citizen

ByPhillip Kim

How to Become a U.S. Citizen


You can become a citizen of the U.S. after having your green card through the naturalization process. There are some usual eligible paths to citizenship: live in the U.S. for 5 years, be the spouse of a U.S. citizen, be in the military or have a family member in the military, or have citizen parents. If you are already living in the U.S., you must have a green card before applying for citizenship. After filing for citizenship, you will need to take the naturalization test, which will include speaking, reading, and writing in English.

To apply independently to be a naturalized citizen, you should be over 18 and have been living in the U.S. with a green card for at least 5 years. For these 5 years you should have been living continuously in the U.S. to be eligible.

To apply to be a naturalized citizen as the spouse of a current U.S. citizen, you need to have a green card for at least 3 years while living with your spouse. If your spouse is working outside the U.S. but is a citizen, you can still file for citizenship as the spouse of a citizen.

Children of U.S. citizens are eligible for citizenship if they meet the requirements. For the purposes of the citizenship process, a child is anyone 18 years old or younger and who is not married. If you are the child of a U.S. citizen and are already living in the U.S., you can automatically get citizenship if at least one parent has citizenship, you are 18 years old or younger, and you are still in your parents’ custody.

If at least one of your parents is a citizen and you are under 18 but living outside the U.S., you are also eligible for citizenship. To be able to apply for citizenship as a child of a citizen living outside the U.S., at least one of your parents has to have been a citizen for at least 5 years. Also, you must have entered the country legally to be eligible to apply for citizenship as the child of a citizen. To enter legally, seek help with filing for a green card or visa.

Some military members, veterans, and their families can apply for citizenship. There are different paths to citizenship based on when your time served happened, separated into peacetime and wartime. If you are eligible to apply for citizenship, you can then file for citizenship as a military member, which includes veterans. Spouses and children of military members can also apply for citizenship if their family member is already a citizen. This process can also be done for families living overseas with active military members.

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