The path to citizenship in the United States is often demanding.
As you start the journey to naturalization, you should understand the requirements and begin collecting the proper paperwork. Permanent residency is the first step.
Requirements for permanent residency
You may be eligible for a green card if you meet the qualifications under any of these categories:
- A relative, fiance, widow, or widower of a U.S. citizen
- Someone granted asylum at least one year ago
- A refugee admitted at least one year ago
- An immigrant worker, physician, or investor
- Victims of abuse
- Human trafficking and crime victims
- A special immigrant, such as a religious worker
There are many other categories with very specific requirements, but you may also apply if you came to and resided in the United States before 1972.
Requirements for naturalization
To become a U.S. citizen, you must meet the following requirements:
- Be at least 18 years old
- Live continuously in the United States as a permanent resident, or green card holder, for a minimum of five years if single or three years if married
- Demonstrate a physical presence in the U.S. for at least half of the required five years
- Be a resident of the state or USCIS district for a minimum of three months
- Demonstrate good moral character, which mainly involves avoiding certain crimes
- Be proficient in U.S. civics history and English
- Be willing to serve in the military or perform civil service
- Pledge allegiance to the U.S.
The number of visas available varies by type, but if you qualify for a category, you can apply.