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United States Citizenship

A person who has been a lawful permanent resident for five years is eligible to apply
for United States citizenship. Please check the Naturalization web page  of the
Immigration and Naturalization Service for detailed information on the process and a
link to the application.

What is a Citizen?

A citizen of the United States is a native-born, foreign-born, or naturalized person
who owes allegiance to the United States and who is entitled to its protection. In
addition to the naturalization process, the United States recognizes the U.S.
citizenship of individuals according to two fundamental principles: jus soli, or right of
birthplace, and jus sanguinis, or right of blood.


The 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees citizenship at birth to
almost all individuals born in the United States or in U.S. jurisdictions, according to
the principle of jus soli. Certain individuals born in the United States, such as
children of foreign heads of state or children of foreign diplomats, do not obtain U.S.
citizenship under jus soli.


Certain individuals born outside of the United States are born citizens because of
their parents, according to the principle of jus sanguinis (which holds that the
country of citizenship of a child is the same as that of his / her parents). The U.S.
Congress is responsible for enacting laws that determine how citizenship is
conveyed by a U.S. citizen parent or parents according to the principle of jus
sanguinis. These laws are contained in the Immigration and Nationality Act.

What is Naturalization?

Naturalization is the process by which U.S. citizenship is conferred upon a foreign
citizen or national after he or she fulfills the requirements established by Congress
in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). The general requirements for
administrative naturalization include:

  • a period of continuous residence and physical presence in the United States;
  • residence in a particular USCIS District prior to filing;
  • an ability to read, write, and speak English;
  • a knowledge and understanding of U.S. history and government;
  • good moral character;
  • attachment to the principles of the U.S. Constitution; and,
  • favorable disposition toward the United States.


The website of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is an excellent source of
information on the Naturalization Process.

Click on the link below to access:


A Guide to Naturalization: A comprehensive booklet which provides information on
the benefits and responsibilities of citizenship, an overview of the naturalization
process and eligibility requirements. USCIS now offers this publication in several
languages. (Note: You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader 5.0 or later to read this
document.)


Eligibility Requirements and Testing: This page details general and special
requirements for becoming a naturalized U.S. citizen, and includes an interactive
eligibility worksheet. Additionally, the page provides links to study guides and an
interactive self test for U.S. history and government. From this page, you may also
link to information on USCIS’ Redesign of Naturalization Testing.


Naturalization Application Procedures: From this page, you can download Form N-
400, Application for Naturalization, and link to information on where to file your
application, the fingerprint process, and fee waiver policies.


FAQs: This page provides a list of frequently asked questions about naturalization
and citizenship.


Filing Locations: This interactive map allows you to choose the state where you live
and provides the address for the Service Center where you should send your
completed Form N-400, Application for Naturalization.


This Web Site is intended for general information purposes only. It is not intended to constitute a legal opinion
and must not be relied upon for any specific application. Be advised that immigration laws and policies change
frequently. In light of the complexities and changes in both the substance and interpretation of U.S.
Immigration Law, it is necessary to seek competent legal advice concerning the application of U.S. immigration
law to any particular individual.

© 2004-2005 Gilbert C. Ferrer, Attorney at Law / All Rights Reserved.