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US citizenship can be acquired through a process called “naturalization.” The eligibility requirements for naturalization are:

Applicants must be at least 18 years of age.

  • Applicants must be permanent residents for five years before applying for naturalization. The exception is if the applicant has been married to a US citizen for three years before applying, and the US citizen spouse has been a US citizen for at least three years.
  • Applicants must have resided in the US for five years, without absences of six months or longer. For applicants married to US citizens, the length of continuous residence is three years.
  • Applicants must have been physically present in the US for at least half of the time that they were required to reside – either thirty months or eighteen months (for an Applicant married to a US citizen).
  • Applicants must reside in the district where they file for at least three months before filing.
  • Applicants must demonstrate “good moral character”.
  • Applicants must demonstrate knowledge of the English language, and must correctly answer a given number of civics questions about US government and history.
  • Applicants must affirmatively answer questions relating to their attachment to the US Constitution. Applicants must also be willing to take the Oath of Allegiance.

Exceptions apply to almost all of these requirements. Further information about the naturalization process can be found on the USCIS website at

It is advisable that applicants, who travel overseas extensively, whether for personal or professional reasons, consult an attorney before filing the naturalization application. The requirements for physical presence and continuous residence are tricky and may jeopardize the petition. At the Law Offices of Sweta Khandelwal, we have assisted numerous applicants obtain naturalization who have spent considerable time overseas, either for work or personal reasons. In fact, if you are a permanent resident and are required to travel overseas, contact us so that we may plan your trips to ensure that you can successfully apply for naturalization when the time to do so arises.

Watch the legal segment of Sitaarre TV that was aired on May 13th, 2012 to know more on how one can become a US citizen.