U.S citizenship
Halt | February 5, 2022 | 0 Comments

Legal Requirements For U.S Citizenship: Everything You Need To Know

If you were born in America, you become a citizen by birth even when you could have lived outside of America for some time. The same applies to children of American citizens born in another part of the world.

In addition, there are provisions for becoming a U.S citizen even if you were not born in America, usually through a process called naturalization. However, to become an American citizen by naturalization, one must fulfill all the legal requirements, as highlighted in this post.

Requirements For Becoming A Citizen Through Naturalization

Legal Guide on the Pathways to Citizenship

There are many advantages to becoming an American citizen legally. These benefits include the right to vote, access to a wider variety of jobs, and having the option to hold a public office.

As part of the process, you’ll need to submit documented evidence supporting your application. If any supporting document is not written in English, you must provide a certified translation.

USCIS certified translations must cover certain requirements to be considered valid. When presenting important documents, such as US immigration paperwork, you want to make sure that all the information is presented accurately. To learn more you can read this comprehensive guide on USCIS certified translations that discusses some tips and considerations you must make when translating your documents.

Below are some of the requirements you may need to meet to become an American citizen.

  • The applicant must be a minimum of 18 years of age. However, there are exemptions for individuals that have served in the U.S. military.
  • You must have been legally living and working in America (a green card holder) for a minimum of five years and three years for spouses of U.S. citizens.
  • You must have had five years of continuous residence in America or three years for persons married to a U.S. citizen.
  • You must have a basic knowledge of written and spoken English. However, some people do not have to take an English or history test depending on their years of living in America, their age, or if they have a form of disability.
  • You must have a basic knowledge of U.S. history. However, some persons may be exempt from the history test as mentioned above.
  • Must not have a criminal history

Demonstrating Continuous Residence

As highlighted above, a person can only be eligible to apply for U.S citizenship if they had lived and worked in America (green card holder) for a minimum of five years and three years for persons married to American citizens. However, continuous residency does not mean you cannot leave the United States in the said period. The only requirement is that you do not stay outside the U.S. for more than six continuous months.

Abandonment Of Permanent Residence

Abandonment of Permanent Residence

The USCIS will presume a green card holder to have abandoned their U.S. permanent residency if they live outside the United States for more than six consecutive months. And as a result, that may be used as a reason to deny them U.S citizenship applications.

However, there are ways to overcome the presumption abandonment, which include:

  • The amount of time beyond the set time you lived outside the United States
  • The validity of the reason for your overstaying
  • The discretion of the evaluating USCIS officer, meaning an officer can sometimes deny your application for having too many long trips outside of the U.S. for the time in question.

While you can leave and return without losing your permanent residency status, there is a requirement that a person applying for citizenship has been physically present in the United States for half the time stipulated according to the nature of the application. For example, persons required to have lived in the United States for five years must have been physically in the U.S. for two and half years or 913 days.

Can You Renounce Your U.S Citizenship?

Can You Renounce Your U.S. Citizenship

Yes, you can. If you intend to renounce your citizenship, this article on renouncing U.S citizenship can be of great help to you.

An American citizen can also choose to renounce their U.S citizenship. However, persons intending to renounce American citizenship, like those seeking citizenship, must meet some set legal requirements.

The process of renouncing a U.S citizenship can be complicated, which requires getting the correct information and assistance before taking this step.


Halt.org is a Law Directory that connects people in need with attorneys that can help protect them. Every day hundreds of thousands of people come to Halt.org searching for the top lawyers in the nation looking to find answers to questions, as well as lawyers that might be able to help protect them. Smart lawyers list their law firm's name address and phone number as well as their, awards and credentials, operating hours. To make the Law Office available to thousands of potential clients.