Naturalization is the process by which U.S. citizenship is granted to a foreign citizen or national after he or she fulfills the requirements established by Congress in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).
You May Qualify for Naturalization if:
- You have been a permanent resident for at least 5 years and meet all other eligibility requirements.
- You have been a permanent resident for 3 years or more and meet all eligibility requirements to file as a spouse of a U.S. citizen.
- You have qualifying service in the U.S. armed forces and meet all other eligibility requirements.
- Your child may qualify for naturalization if you are a U.S. citizen, the child was born outside the U.S., the child is currently residing outside the U.S., and all other eligibility requirements are met.
Citizenship Through Parents
There are two general ways to obtain citizenship through U.S. citizen parents, one at birth and one after birth but before the age of 18. The term “parents” includes: the genetic father, the genetic mother, and the non-genetic gestational mother, if she is the legal parent at the time of birth under the law of the relevant jurisdiction.
Citizenship for Military Personnel & Family Members
USCIS recognizes the important sacrifices made by non-U.S. citizen members of the U.S. armed forces and their families. USCIS is committed to processing their naturalization applications in a timely and efficient manner while providing exemplary customer service, maintaining the integrity of the immigration system, and maintaining the security of the process.
Members of the U.S. armed forces and their dependents (spouses and children) may be eligible for citizenship, to include expedited and overseas processing, under special provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).
Citizenship for Military Members
Members of the U.S. armed forces may be eligible for citizenship by qualifying for naturalization through military service under Section 328 or 329 of the INA.
Qualifying military service is generally in the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, and certain components of the National Guard and the Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve. The general requirements for naturalization may be diminished or waived for qualifying service member.
Generally, a person who has served honorably in the U.S. armed forces at any time may be eligible to apply for naturalization under section 328 of the INA. The military community sometimes refers to this as “peacetime naturalization.”
Generally, members of the U.S. armed forces who serve honorably for any period of time (even 1 day) during specifically designated periods of hostilities are eligible for naturalization under section 329 of the INA through such military service.
Citizenship for Spouses & Children of Military Members
Spouses of U.S. citizen members of the U.S. armed forces who are (or will be) deployed may be eligible for expedited naturalization or for overseas processing. Children of U.S. citizen military members deployed abroad may be eligible for overseas processing.
The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008 added Section 319(e) to the INA which allows certain eligible spouses of service members to naturalize abroad without traveling to the United States for any part of the naturalization process and also treats qualifying residence abroad as residence and physical presence in the U.S. for purposes of naturalization.
The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008 amended Section 322 of the INA to allow certain eligible children of service members to become naturalized U.S. citizens without having to travel to the United States for any part of the naturalization process.
Green Card Renewal
If you are outside the United States and your green card will expire within 6 months (but you will return within 1 year of your departure from the United States and before the card expires), you should file for your renewal card as soon as you return to the United States.
You should renew your green card if you are a permanent resident with a Form I-551 valid for 10 years and the card is either expired or will expire within the next 6 months.
If you have a previous version of the alien registration card (e.g., USCIS Form AR-3, Form AR-103 or Form I-151), you must replace it with a current green card.