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What's required to apply for U.S. Citizenship?

Becoming a U.S. citizen is the dream of millions of people around the world. After all, the United States offers a host of opportunities for a better life. Unfortunately, the glut of aspiring citizens makes applying for citizenship a long and arduous process, and there is no guarantee that the application will be successful.

With that in mind, it may be helpful to cover some of the basic requirements:

  • You must have a valid green card.
  • You must be 18 years of age.
  • You have to have been living here legitimately for five years and physically in the country for at least two and a half of those five years. This holds true unless your spouse is a U.S. citizen or you were granted political asylum.
  • You cannot have been outside the United States for more than a year at any time.
  • You don't have a primary residence in some other country.
  • You must be able to speak, write and read English.
  • You must be of "good moral character."
  • You must live in the district where you're applying for three months or more.
  • You must pass a U.S. government and history test.
  • You must take an oath to be loyal to America.

Once all of those criteria are met, you will need to submit Form N-400, along with photos, your green card, a fee and the necessary documents. The application process can be complex, so it may be a good idea to talk to an immigration attorney, who may be able to help walk you through it.

Source: findlaw.com, "Requirements for Applying for Citizenship in the United States," retrieved May 16, 2015

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