top of page


What is Naturalization?

Naturalization is the process by which an adult lawful permanent resident can apply to become a U.S. citizen.  In order to naturalize, a lawful permanent resident has to meet certain requirements that are set forth in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).  

To apply for Naturalization, you must satisfy the following nine requirements:

  1. Be a lawful Permanent Resident

  2. Be at least 18 years old

  3. Have been a lawful permanent resident for at least five years (except in certain circumstances, like marriage to a U.S. Citizen)

  4. Have “good moral character.”  Certain convictions of crimes committed in your past can prevent you from having “good moral character” under the Immigration and Nationality Act.

  5. Be able to pass an English Exam by reading, writing, and speaking English

  6. Be able to pass a test on U.S. history and government

  7. Have lived continuously in the United States for at least five years (except in certain circumstances such as being married to a U.S. Citizen or being in the military)

  8. Have been physically present in the United States for a least half of the five year period (except in certain circumstances such as being married to a U.S. Citizen or being in the military)

  9. Be willing to swear loyalty to the United States by taking a loyalty oath

Two women wearing the American flag as a blanket

Reasons why people want to naturalize

  1. You gain the right to vote in U.S. elections

  2. Gain the right to hold elected public office

  3. Gain the right to petition for more family members than a legal permanent resident

  4. U.S. Citizens cannot be denied entry or removed from the United States

  5. U.S. Citizens can leave the United States and live in another country for a long as they desire

  6. Traveling in some foreign countries may be easier for U.S. Citizens

  7. U.S. Citizens never have to renew their certificate of naturalization

Reasons why a person may not want to become a U.S. Citizen

  1. The most significant disadvantage of applying for naturalization is that an applicant could be deported from the US if information in their application lets USCIS know that you are removable. If you have crimes in your past, you should consult with an experienced immigration attorney before applying for naturalization.

  2. By becoming a naturalized U.S. Citizen, you may lose the ability to own property in a foreign nation.  If you own property in a foreign nation, consult with the consulate of the nation where the property is located.

  3. A person who decides to naturalize as a U.S. Citizen may use their citizenship in their native country.  If you are concerned with losing your citizenship in your home nation, or another nation, please consult with an attorney who has an expertise in that nation’s laws.

  4. Some people may be intimidated by the process.  The process to become a naturalized U.S. Citizen can seem intimidating, but by working with us at Sojourner Law, we can help relieve your concerns by explaining the process and working with you on your journey to obtain the great privilege of becoming a United States Citizen.

Red Flag Problem Situations

  • You made trips out of the U.S. for more than six months

  • You moved to another country since getting your green card

  • You are in deportation or removal proceedings - or - you have ever been deported

  • You have helped or provided support to a group that attacked others or attempted to overthrow another country’s government

  • You ever failed to file federal, state, or local taxes, or you owe taxes

  • You are a male who has not registered for Selective Service between the ages of 18 and 26.

  • You haven’t supported your children or owe child support

  • You are on probation or parole for a criminal conviction

  • You have contradictory information on your application

  • You lied or committed fraud to get your green card  or you weren’t originally eligible for your green card when you got it

  • Left the country for 30 days or more while yo were receiving public benefits

  • You have been arrested or convicted of a crime or you have committed a crime

  • You lied or committed fraud to receive or to continue to receive public benefits

  • You helped someone enter the U.S. illegally, even if it was a relative

  • You ever claimed to be a U.S. citizen but weren’t 

  • You have been charged with committing domestic violence, child abuse, or child neglect

  • You have voted illegally in the U.S. or registered to vote in the U.S. and weren’t eligible to

  • You have made a living by illegal gambling

  • You have been involved in prostitution

  • You have been a habitual drunkard, a drug abuser, or a drug addict 

If you have checked any of the above boxes, you MUST consult with an immigration attorney before applying for naturalization with USCIS

bottom of page