How Do I Know If I Am Eligible For Citizenship?

Eligibility for Citizenship

A person that was born in the United States and a child who is foreign born to U.S. citizens are supposed to automatically have U.S. citizenship. A minor may derive citizenship following the naturalization of one or both of their parents. 

When an adult who was not born here is seeking citizenship, they may be eligible to apply for citizenship through a process called naturalization. 


Naturalization is when a person who was not born in the U.S. volunteers to begin the process of applying for citizenship. Naturalization is the most common way for people that were born outside of the U.S. to become citizens. A person who wishes to seek citizenship this way needs to meet several requirements before they can officially begin the naturalization process.

Eligibility for U.S. Citizenship

Many green card holders do not know that they are eligible to become U.S. citizens. It is estimated that currently, seven million green card holders are eligible for this. 

If you have a green card and wish to become a citizen, you may be eligible to apply through naturalization if you meet one or more of the following requirements:

5 Years of Residency

If you have been a permanent resident of the U.S. for five years or more, as a general rule (although exceptions do apply) you should be eligible to apply for citizenship through the naturalization process. This is the most common avenue that citizenship applicants take to try to attain citizenship.

3 Years of Marriage

If you have a green card and have been married to a green card holder for three years or more, you should be eligible for naturalization. A marriage visa applicant must be 18 years of age or older and have lived in the U.S .continuously with their U.S. citizen spouse for the three years immediately preceding the date they file a Form N-400, Application for Naturalization. They must be married to someone who has been a U.S. citizen the entire time they’ve been married. 

1 Year of Armed Forces

If you have been a member of the U.S. Armed forces for one year or more, you may be eligible to apply for citizenship through the naturalization process. A key qualification to do this is that the applicant must have served honorably. If the applicant is no longer with the armed forces, they must have been honorably discharged and file a Form N-400, 

Application for Naturalization within six months of their military leave date.

Parent is a Citizen

In some circumstances, a child that is born in another country can get U.S. citizenship if at least one of their parents is a U.S. citizen at the time of their birth. A minor may also be able to apply for naturalization if they are living with a parent when the parent goes through the naturalization process. 

The laws for becoming a U.S. citizen have been modified in the last few years and it is anticipated that further changes will be made that are going to make it more difficult for people to become citizens.

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