Becoming a U.S. citizen is a lifelong goal for many. How exactly does this process work and what are the requirements? On this page, we cover what you need to know about applying for citizenship in the United States.

Eligibility for Citizenship

To be eligible for citizenship you must meet these general requirements:

  • Be 18 years of age or older;
  • Be a permanent resident for at least 5 years (or 3 years if you are married to a U.S. citizen);
  • Have continuous residence in the U.S. for the last 5 years (or 3 years if you are married to a United States citizen) and be physically present in the U.S. for at least half that time;
  • Be able to read, write and speak basic English;
  • Have a knowledge and understanding of U.S. history and government;
  • Be a person of good moral character; and
  • Take a loyalty oath to the United States and support the Constitution and form of government of the United States.

Applying for Citizenship

To apply for citizenship, you must complete and submit form N-400. After you submit this form, you may be scheduled to take biometrics at USCIS. You are required to attend an interview at USCIS, where a USCIS  officer will review your eligibility for citizenship and you will take an English and civics test. If your application is approved, USCIS will schedule you for an oath ceremony, where you will take the Oath of Allegiance to the United States. On that day, you become a U.S. citizen and receive a certificate of naturalization.

Frequently Asked Questions about Citizenship

What is the civics test like?
The USCIS civics test covers your knowledge of U.S. history and government. There are 100 pre-written questions for you to study before the interview. During the interview, a USCIS officer will ask you up to 10 questions. You must get 6 of them correct. USCIS is currently using the 2008 version of the test, which you can find here.

What is on the English test?
The English test covers your ability to read, write, speak, and understand the English language. The USCIS officer will test your conversational English and ask you to read aloud a sentence in English and write a sentence in English.

What happens if I don’t pass the English or civics test?
USCIS will schedule you to retake the test you did not pass (English or civics, or both) between 60 and 90 days after the date of your first interview.

I have a disability. Can I apply for a waiver of the civics and English test?
Yes, applicants may request an exception to the English and civics testing requirements for naturalization because of physical or developmental disability or mental impairment. For more information, click here.

I have been a permanent resident for many years. Am I still required to take the test for citizenship?
The following applicants do not have to take the English test:

  • Applicants who are 50 or older and have been permanent residents for at least 20 years; and
  • Applicants who are 55 or older and have been permanent residents for at least 15 years.

These applicants can also take the civics test in the language of their choice. Applicants who are 65 or older and have been permanent residents for 20 years or longer can also take a shorter version of the civics test.

What if I have more questions?
Our immigration attorneys are experienced in preparing and filing applications for naturalization. Click here to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys or call 816-491-8105.

Please note: This page is intended to provide general information and is not legal advice. By reading this page, you understand that there is no attorney-client relationship being formed.