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Requirements for naturalization

Many people from all corners of the world dream of becoming a naturalized citizen of the United States. Unfortunately, many citizen-hopefuls are unsure what the requirements for naturalization actually are. While there are many parts of the naturalization process that may be subject to change in the next few years, as of now, the requirements are fairly straightforward. Anyone who wishes to become a naturalized citizen of the U.S. should begin by familiarizing themselves with the basic requirements, and then seek additional help in walking through the process.

For the time being, most individuals will be subject to the same basic eligibility standards, although some standards are concrete, while others less easily defined. The concrete requirements include:

-- Being a legal resident of the United States through the possession of a green card

-- Being at least 18 years old (individuals younger than 18 must have the Application for Naturalization filed on their behalf)-- Having resided physically within the United States for at least 30 months, or two and one-half years-- Having been a legal and law-abiding permanent resident of the United States for at least five years.-- Reciting the Oath of Allegiance

The more flexible and complicated requirements include:

-- Being a "person of good moral character." This can be a difficult standard to understand, and just as difficult to fairly enforce.

-- Being able to speak, read and write in English. Of course, being fluent in any language is a matter of degrees, and the standards for acceptable English knowledge do change.

-- Having some knowledge of the United States' history as a nation and the way that its government operates. As with any exam in school or elsewhere, these tests change regularly and require a good amount of preparation to pass.

Under some circumstances, not all of these standards are necessary to meet, primarily for those who are the spouses of citizens or military members.

If you or someone you love is ready to begin pursuing naturalization into citizenship, you may find the advice of an attorney helpful. With the guidance of an experienced attorney, you can confidently navigate this difficult process and stay on top of any changes that may affect the requirements for becoming a citizen.

Source: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, "Naturalization Fact Sheet," accessed Dec. 30, 2016

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