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A person may become a U.S. citizen by birth or through naturalization. Naturalization is the process an immigrant goes through to become a U.S. citizen after fulfilling a certain requirements. Usually a child who is a permanent resident can derive citizenship from the naturalized parents. This is true whether the child is by birth or adoption.

General Citizenship Requirements
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There are certain general requirements for a naturalization applicant to meet before he or she can become a U.S. citizen through naturalization. An applicant must:

  • be at least 18 years old.
  • have been lawfully admitted for permanent residence (see preceding section);
  • have been lawfully admitted for permanent residence (see preceding section);
  • have resided continuously as a lawful permanent resident in the U.S. for at least 5 years (3 years for the spouse of a U.S. citizen) prior to filing with no single absence from the United States of more than one year;
  • have been physically present in the United States for at least 30 months out of the previous five years or 18 months if you are the spouse of a U.S. citizen (absences of more than six months but less than one year shall disrupt the applicant’s continuity of residence unless the applicant can establish that he or she did not abandon his or her residence during such period)
  • have resided within a state or district for at least three months
  • be of good moral character. A person also cannot be found to be a person of good moral character if during the last five years
  • be attached to the principles of the Constitution of the United States.
  • be able to read, write, speak, and understand words in ordinary usage in the English language.
    • Some applicants may be exempt from certain portions of the naturalization exam.
    • demonstrate a knowledge and understanding of the fundamentals of the history and of the principles and form of government of the United States. Applicants who have been residing in the U.S. subsequent to a lawful admission for permanent residence for at least 20 years and are over the age of 65 will be given special consideration in meeting this requirement.