How to Become a US Citizen?

Acquiring US citizenship is a big step ahead in the journey of immigrants to the United States of America. For some whose home countries do not allow dual citizenship, it means giving up the citizenship of the country they were born in. Acquiring citizenship of the US means that you will be loyal to the country and its constitution and also means that you will enjoy the rights and privileges that come with being a US citizen. In order to apply for certificate of citizenship the applicant has to complete Form N-600. Below is some basic information about how one can become a citizen of United States of America. There are two ways one can become a citizen of USA:

  • By Birth
  • Through Naturalization

How Does One Become a US Citizen by Birth?

A person can acquire US Citizenship by Birth if certain conditions are fulfilled:

  • Born in the United States:  The person was born in USA or in territories where United Stated has jurisdiction like, Puerto Rico, Guam, US Virgin Islands, and Northern Mariana Islands.
  • Born Outside United States: If the child is born outside of United States then its US citizenship is dependent on the parents' status of citizenship. A child can become a US citizen by birth if:
    • One parent or both the parents were United States citizens at the time of the child's birth.
    • The child is born to one parent who is a US citizen and who must have lived at least 5 years in the US before the child was born, and at least 2 of those years should have been after the parent's 14th birthday.
    • If the child was born before November 14, 1986, then the parent who is a US citizen should have lived in the US for at least 10 years before the birth of the child, and 5 of those years should have been after the parent's 14th birthday. 

How Does One Become a US Citizen through Naturalization

Naturalization is the process by which US citizenship is acquired by a foreign citizen after he or she fulfills the requirements established by Congress in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). You can apply for Naturalization but there are certain requirements associated with the Naturalization process for immigrants:

  • A person who has resided in the US for 5 years with a Green Card and has not left the country for more than 6 months can apply for naturalization.
  • A person who is Green Card holder for 3 years, living with a spouse who has been a US citizen for minimum 3 years, and has not left the country for more than 6 months can apply for naturalization.

How Can a Child Become a US Citizen through Parents?

A child can become a US citizen either by birth or acquire citizenship automatically through the parents before reaching the age of 18. Certain things need to be taken into consideration for the fulfillment of this process:

  • The child should be a resident Green Card holder.
  • Both the parents have to be naturalized before the child's 18th birthday.
  • The surviving parent has to be naturalized before the child's 18th birthday if one parent is dead.
  • If the parents are legally separated or the child is born out of wedlock then the parent having the legal and physical custody of the child has be naturalized before reaching the age of 18.
  • If the minor applicant is called for an interview then he or she has to be accompanied by a parent.
  • If the application for citizenship is approved then the children above the age of 14 will have to appear for the oath of allegiance.

For more information on becoming a US citizen, visit our US Citizenship section.