U.S. Citizenship

Eligibility Requirements

In general, to file for naturalization, you must:

  • Be a lawful permanent resident (LPR) of the U.S. (conditional permanent residents can apply in certain situations); 
  • Be age 18 or older; 
  • Meet certain continuous residence & physical presence requirements;
  • Be of good moral character; and
  • Pass a reading, writing, speaking, and civics test.

Benefits of U.S. Citizenship

  • Voting: Only U.S. citizens can vote in Federal elections. Most States also restrict the right to vote, in most elections, to U.S. citizens.

  • Bringing family members to the United States: Citizens generally get priority when petitioning to bring family members permanently to this country.

  • U.S. Residency: Citizenship guarantees the right to remain in the U.S. Permanent residents are always at risk of losing their green cards for spending too much time outside the U.S., whether for family or employment reasons.

  • 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: A U.S. passport allows you to get assistance from the U.S. government when overseas.

  • Becoming eligible for Federal jobs: Most jobs with government agencies require U.S. citizenship.

  • Becoming an elected official: Many elected offices in this country require U.S. citizenship. 

Dual Citizenship

While the U.S. does not prohibit dual citizenship, some other countries do. U.S. law does not mention dual nationality or require a person to choose one nationality or another. However, a person who acquires a foreign nationality by applying for it may lose U.S. nationality. In order to lose your U.S. nationality, the law requires that the person apply for the foreign nationality voluntarily, by free choice, and with the intention to give up U.S. nationality.