Naturalization Process Explained

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).

In most cases, an applicant for naturalization must be a permanent resident (green card holder) before filing.  Except for certain U.S. military members and their dependents, naturalization can only be granted in the United States.

You May Qualify for Naturalization if:

  • You have been a permanent resident for at least 5 years and meet all other eligibility requirements. See the “General Path to Naturalization” link under “Citizenship by Naturalization” below.
  • 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. See the “Spouses of U.S. Citizens” link under “Citizenship by Naturalization” below.
  • You have qualifying service in the U.S. armed forces and meet all other eligibility requirements. See the “Information for Members of the Military and Their Families” below.
  • 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.

Note: You may also qualify through other paths to naturalization if you do not qualify through the paths described below. See the “A Guide to Naturalization” below. Chapter 4 of the guide discusses who is eligible for Naturalization.

How to Apply for Naturalization

To apply for naturalization, file Form N-400, Application for Naturalization. See the “N-400,Application for Naturalization” below for the form and its instructions.

For more information, check the “A Guide to Naturalization (M-476)” below. We also have provided educational materials to help you prepare for the English, U.S. history and civics portions of the naturalization test, including:

  • Naturalization Self Test
  • Study Materials for Naturalization Test

See the links to those resources below, and also check the “Naturalization Test” below for even more test information and resources.

If you are in the military and are interested in becoming a U.S. citizen, please check the “M-599, Naturalization Information for Military” below.

Note: You may already be a U.S. citizen and not need to apply for naturalization if your biological or adoptive parent(s) became a U.S. citizen before you reached the age of 18.  See the “Citizenship through Parents” below.

More Information



Citizenship Resources


External Links

If you require additional assistance please contact our office.