What Does it Mean To Be Naturalized?
If you are not a U.S. citizen by birth or did not acquire/derive U.S. citizenship automatically after birth, you may still be eligible to become a citizen through the naturalization process. Eligible persons use the “Application for Naturalization” (Form N-400) to apply for naturalization. To apply you must be:
Permanent resident maintaining continuous residence:
In most cases, you must be at least 18 years of age and be a Permanent Resident for a certain number of years before you may apply for naturalization. But, it is not enough to be a Permanent Resident for the required number of years; you must also be in “continuous residence” during that time.
Continuous residence means that you have not left the United States for a long period of time (the actual amount of time depends on your current status). If you leave the United States for too long, you may interrupt your continuous residence.
Good Moral Character:
To be eligible for naturalization you must be a person of good moral character. USCIS will make a determination on your moral character based upon the laws Congress has passed; for instance the following show lack of a good oral character
- Any crime against a person with intent to harm.
- Any crime against property or the Government that involves “fraud” or evil intent.
- Two or more crimes for which the aggregate sentence was 5 years or more.
- Violating any controlled substance law of the United States, any State, or any foreign country.
- Habitual drunkenness.
- Illegal gambling.
- Polygamy (marriage to more than one person at the same time).
- Lying to gain immigration benefits.
- Failing to pay court-ordered child support or alimony payments.
- Confinement in jail, prison, or similar institution for which the total confinement was 180 days or more during the past 5 years (or 3 years if you are applying based on your marriage to a United States citizen)
- Failing to complete any probation, parole, or suspended sentence before you apply for naturalization.
- Terrorist acts
- Persecution of anyone because of race, religion, national origin, political opinion, or social group.
English and Civics:
To be eligible for naturalization, you must be able to read, write, and speak basic English. You must also have a basic knowledge of U.S. history and government and civics. There are certain exemptions for people who cannot meet the language requirement.
Attachment to the Constitution:
All applicants for naturalization must be willing to support and defend the United States and our Constitution. You declare your “attachment” to the United States and our Constitution when you take the Oath of Allegiance. In fact, it is not until you take the Oath of Allegiance that you actually become a U.S. citizen