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How do I become a naturalized American citizen?

Foreign nationals or citizens are eligible to apply to become naturalized United States citizens under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).One of the first steps in qualifying for American citizenship is for you to take and pass the naturalization test. It includes sections testing your mastery of civics, English and U.S. history.

In order to qualify to become a naturalized citizen of the United States, you generally have to fall into one of four different categories. Children born abroad to a parent who is a U.S. citizen may qualify for citizenship via naturalization even if they maintain their residence outside of this country.

In this case, the child has to be under the age of 18 at the time he or she petitions to become a naturalized citizen of the U.S.

If living abroad, the child must also be in both the physical and legal custody of the parent who is the American citizen in order to qualify to apply to become naturalized. If that parent has already passed away, then a naturalization application can be filed on the child's behalf.

Those who have served in the U.S. military may qualify to become naturalized American citizens under INA 328 and 329.

Service members must have served honorably at least one year during a time of peace and be currently residing in the U.S. prior to submitting their application for naturalization under INA 328.

Those who were on active duty various periods of hostility including February 28, 1961 and October 15, 1978, August 2, 1990 and April 11, 1991 or September 11, 2001 to the present may also qualify to become naturalized American citizens under INA 329.

Individuals who have maintained permanent resident status in the United States during the five years leading up to their application may also qualify to become naturalized American citizens. Any husband or wife of any U.S. citizen that has maintained permanent resident status for at least three years may also qualify to apply for naturalization.

If you believe that you meet one of the criteria necessary to qualify for naturalization, learn what the next steps are in obtaining citizenship.

Source: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, "Citizenship though naturalization," accessed June 08, 2018

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