Eligibility for Citizenship

Individuals may be eligible for United States citizenship either at birth or after birth.

To become a United States citizen at birth the applicant needs to either have been born in the United States, or a parent or both parents of the applicant were citizens of the United States at the time of his or her birth.

To become a United States citizen after birth the individual must apply for citizenship through his or her parent(s) that are United States citizens before he or she turns 18 years old, or apply through the Naturalization process once they are 18 years old or older.

Eligibility for Naturalization

Individuals eligible to apply for Naturalization are:

  • Those who have been permanent residents for 5 or more years and meet all other eligibility requirements;
  • Those who have been permanent residents for 3 or more years, are a spouse of a United States citizen and meet all other eligibility requirements;
  • Those who have qualifying service in the Untied States armed forces and meets all other eligibility requirements; and
  • Children of United States citizens born outside the United States and who continue to reside outside the United States given all other eligibility requirements are met.

The general requirements to apply for naturalization are:

  • Be at least 18 years or older
  • Continuously and physically live within the United states as a permanent resident for at least 5 years, or 3 years if you are a spouse of a United States citizen
  • Be of good moral character and standing in both the United States and their country of origin
  • Be able to read, write, and speak English
  • Be able to demonstrate basic knowledge of United States history, government, and the United States Constitution

Skills such as reading, writing, and speaking English, knowledge of United States history, and government are determined with a Naturalization Test during the applicant’s interview with a USCIS officer.

Those born outside of the United States to a US citizen parent may file an N-600 application for a Certificate of Citizenship. You may also file this application if you automatically became a citizen of the United States after birth, but before you turned 18 years of age.

The N-600 form is not a request to become a US citizen. The N-600 form is rather a request to obtain a Certificate of Citizenship.

The N-600K form, on the other hand, is the application that children who regularly reside in a foreign country may use to claim U.S. citizenship based on their parents. The form is for the acquisition of U.S. citizenship and the issuance of a Certificate of Citizenship.

A child may acquire U.S. citizenship through form N-600K if he or she meets all of the following criteria:

  • The child is not married;
  • USCIS administers the Oath of Allegiance to the child before the child reaches 18 years of age;
  • The child regularly resides outside the United States
  • The child is in the legal and physical custody of the U.S. citizen parent;
  • The child’s U.S. citizen parent has been physically present in the United States for periods totaling five years of age, at least two of which were after 14 years of age. If the U.S. parent does not meet this requirement then the grandparent must meet this requirement;
  • And the child must be temporarily present in the United States at the time of the interview in a lawful status pursuant to a lawful admission.

To find out what the right path to citizenship is for you, please contact our immigration attorneys directly and set up an appointment.


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