Naturalization is available to applicants who meet the following requirements:

1. Were admitted as lawful permanent residents (LPRs).

2. Are 18 years old when filing the application.

3. Have resided in the United States continuously for five years preceding application (three years for spouses of U.S. citizens).

4. Have been physically present in the United States for a total of at least one-half the period of required continuous residence (two and one-half years for most individuals; one and one-half years for spouses of U.S. citizens).

5. Have resided for at least three months immediately preceding the naturalization filing in the state in which the petition is filed. This residency requirement is met concurrently with the five- or three-year continuous residence requirement.

An absence from the United States for less than six months creates no problems. An absence from the United States for more than six months but less than one year establishes a presumption against compliance with the continuous residency requirement; this presumption can be rebutted. An absence from the United States for more conclusively than one year breaks continuous residence.

6. Able to read, write, and speak ordinary English

Exemptions from this requirement apply to applicants who are unable to comply because of permanent disability. People over 50 years old who have resided in the United States for 20 years as permanent residents may be examined in their native language rather than English (50/20 rule). People older than 55 who have resided in the United States for 15 years as permanent residents may be examined in their native language rather than English (55/15 rule).

7. Have knowledge and understanding of basic U.S. history and government

Applicants must pass the oral history and government exam, even if they are exempt from the English requirement. An interpreter may be used if the person is exempt from the English-language requirement.

Applicants over 65 years old who have resided in the United States for 20 years as permanent residents may receive ”special consideration” concerning this requirement.

Applicants unable to comply with this requirement because of permanent disability are exempt for this requirement upon submission of a doctor’s certificates.

8. Possess good moral character — This requirement is interpreted as character that measures up to the standards of the average person in the community in which the applicant resides. A criminal convictions for a moral turpitude offense occurring within he required period of continuous residence ( 5 or 3 years prior the filing the application), is a bar to naturalization.

Certain people are statutorily defined as not having good moral character. This includes persons who have been convicted of very serious crimes.

Persons with a prior criminal conviction should not file for naturalization without consulting with competent legal counsel as the filing of a naturalization application will result in a background check which could bring removable offenses to the attention of the agency and result in the person being placed in removal (i.e. deportation) proceedings.

9. Reside continuously (not the same as physical presence) in the United States from the date of filing the naturalization application until actual admission to citizenship.