LIHEAP Fact Sheet on How to Become A United States Citizen
IM-97-9 Special Topics
HOW TO BECOME A UNITED STATES CITIZEN
To be eligible for U.S. citizenship, you must:
- Be 18 years of age or older;
- Be a Legal Permanent Resident (“Green Card” holder) for at least 5 years, or 3 years if you are married to a U.S. citizen. You may submit an Application for Naturalization to the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) 3 months before you reach the residency requirement;
- Be a person of good moral character;
- Be able to speak, read, write, and understand ordinary English words and phrases. If you are over 55 years old and have lived in the U.S. as a Legal Permanent Resident for 15 years, or are over 50 years old and lived in the U.S. as a Legal Permanent Resident for 20 years, you may be exempt from this requirement; and
- Be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the fundamentals of U.S. history and principles of government.
You must also:
- Submit an Application for Naturalization (Form N-400) to the INS, with the $95.00 application fee, two photos, and a fingerprint card. INS will send the fingerprint card to the FBI to check whether you have committed a crime which might disqualify you form citizenship;
- Be interviewed by an INS officer when you are scheduled for an appointment; and
- If you are approved for citizenship by the INS, take the Oath of Allegiance to the United States of America.
Special exceptions to some of the general requirements above for citizenship are available for the disabled, members of the military, veterans, spouses married to U.S. citizens living overseas, and Legal Permanent Residents who work for certain organizations that promote U.S. interests abroad. If you are the minor child (under 18 years of age) of a U.S. citizen and were born outside the U.S., you may automatically be eligible for a Certificate of Citizenship. You should file an INS Form N-600 to receive this certificate.
To request an Application for Naturalization (INS Form N-400) and complete instructions, or an Application for Certificate of Citizenship (INS Form N-600), please call the INS at 1-800-870-3676. You may also call 1-800-755-0777 for additional recorded information.