Citizenship

When you decide to become a U.S. citizen, you should be willing to fulfill the responsibilities of citizenship. We hope you will honor and respect the freedoms and opportunities citizenship gives you. At the same time, we hope you become an active member of your community. It is by participating in your community that you truly become an American. 

Benefits

The Constitution and laws of the United States give many rights to both citizens and non-citizens living in the United States. However, some rights are only for citizens, such as:

  • Voting.

  • Bringing family members to the United States.

    • Citizens generally get priority when petitioning to bring family members permanently to this country.
  • Obtaining citizenship for children born abroad.

    • In most cases, a child born abroad to a U.S. citizen is automatically a U.S. citizen.
  • Traveling with a U.S. passport.

  • Becoming eligible for Federal jobs.

  • Becoming an elected official..

  • Showing your patriotism.

Responsibilities

To become a U.S. citizen you must take the Oath of Allegiance. The oath includes several promises you make when you become a U.S. citizen, including promises to:

  • Give up all prior allegiance to any other nation or sovereignty;

  • Swear allegiance to the United States;

  • Support and defend the Constitution and the laws of the United States; and

  • Serve the country when required.

  • U.S. citizens have many responsibilities other than the ones mentioned in the Oath. Citizens have a responsibility to participate in the political process by registering and voting in elections.

  • Serving on a jury is another responsibility of citizenship.

Applying for Citizenship

In order to be eligible for naturalization, you must first meet certain requirements required by U.S. immigration law. Generally, to be eligible for naturalization you must:

  • Be age 18 or older; and

  • Be a permanent resident for a certain amount of time (usually 5 years or 3 years, depending on how you obtained status); and

  • Be a person of good moral character; and

  • Have a basic knowledge of U.S. government (this, too, can be excepted due to permanent Physical or mental impairment); and

  • Have a period of continuous residence and physical presence in the United States; and

  • Be able to read, write, and speak basic English. There are exceptions to this rule for someone who at the time of filing

Need to Knows

To be exempt from English Language requirements, not the Civic Test:

50/20

Age 50 or older at the time of filing for naturalization and have lived as a permanent resident (green card holder) in the United States for 20 years   (commonly referred to as the “50/20” exception).*

55/15

Age 55 or older at the time of filing for naturalization and have lived as a permanent resident in the United States for 15 years (commonly referred to as the “55/15” exception).*

"65/20"

If you are age 65 or older and have been a permanent resident for at least 20 years at the time of filing for naturalization, you will be given special consideration regarding the civics requirement.

There is a fee waiver, meaning your cost to apply for citizenship reduces from $680 to $0.

*You may be permitted to take the civics test in your native language, but only if your understanding of spoken English is insufficient to conduct a valid examination in English. If you take the test in your native language, you must bring an interpreter with you to your interview. Your interpreter must be fluent in both English and your native language.

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