Individuals born outside the United States may obtain U.S. citizenship if certain conditions are met. The chart below explains the most common paths to U.S. citizenship for individuals who were born outside the United States.

Eligibility

Applicant must have resided in the U.S. at least 5 years after obtaining a green card (3 years if married to a U.S. citizen).

Applicant must have been physically present in the U.S. at least 30 months during the 5 years prior to filing for citizenship. (18 months during the 3 years prior to filing if married to a U.S. citizen).

Applicant must be able to read, write, and speak English in addition to demonstrating an understanding of U.S. civics.

Applicant must be a person of Good Moral Character

Key Takeaways

Absences from the U.S. of between six months to one year may break the continuous residence requirement unless certain exceptions are met.

Absences from the U.S. of one year or more generally break the continuous residence requirement unless prior authorization is obtained.

Applicants who are at least 50 years of age or older and have lived in the U.S. for at least 20 years as green card holders (or 55 years old and 15 years of U.S. residence as green card holders) are exempt from the English language requirement

Eligibility

Children born outside the U.S. may acquire U.S. citizenship if at least one of the child’s parents was a U.S. citizen at the time of the child’s birth. (Acquisition of Citizenship)

Children who are born to at least one naturalized U.S. citizen may derive citizenship from the parent if they are under 18 years old, have lawful permanent residence status, and are living with the parent at the time the parent naturalizes.

Key Takeaways

The laws that govern acquisition of citizenship vary depending on when the child was born.

Similar to acquisition, the laws governing derivation of citizenship are governed based on the time period the child was born.

Eligibility

An individual who has served in the U.S. armed forces must demonstrate:

Honorable service for at least one year during a period of peacetime.

Lawful Permanent Resident status prior to obtaining citizenship.

At least 18 years of age.

Good moral character.

Demonstrate the ability to read, write, and speak English in addition to an understanding of U.S. civics.

Key Takeaways

Members of the armed services who serve for at least one year during a period of peacetime may apply for U.S. Citizenship after only one year of obtaining Green Card.

A Green Card is not required if service was during a period of hostility.

The application must be filed while in service or within six months of separation.

There is no specific service requirement time if the service was during a period of hostility.

The USCIS filing fee is waived.

Must swear an oath of allegiance to the U.S. Constitution.

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