A young immigrant woman smiling outside of a building with American flags


Individuals who immigrate to the United States and become permanent residents can apply for citizenship through a process called Naturalization. Naturalization grants new U.S. citizens benefits that immigrants who are not naturalized do not have. Those benefits include the right to receive a passport, the ability to vote in U.S. elections, as well as more educational and employment opportunities. Additionally, immigrants who are naturalized and later are convicted of a crime do not face removal proceedings.

Requirements for Naturalization

In order to become a naturalized citizen, you must:

  • Be at least 18 years old;
  • Prove that you are a lawful, permanent resident in the U.S. and have been so for at least 5 years;
  • Have been physically present in the U.S. for at least 30 months;
  • Have good moral character;
  • Read, write, speak, and understand the English language;
  • Know about U.S. history and government; and
  • Take an oath of allegiance to the U.S.

Exemptions for Naturalization

Certain individuals may qualify for exemptions from some of the general naturalization requirements. If you are the spouse of a U.S. citizen, you may be able to apply for naturalization after living in the U.S. for 3 years (as a permanent resident) instead of the generally required 5. If you are the spouse of a U.S. citizen who is stationed abroad, you may be exempt from the physical presence requirement. Members of the military may also receive certain exemptions when applying for naturalization.

Assistance with Naturalization

Naturalization, as with any part of the U.S. immigration process, can be complicated at times. By calling an immigration attorney, you can have someone on your side to help you navigate the process and ensure you are meeting all the necessary requirements. If you’re looking for help with naturalization in Reading, Allentown, or anywhere in southeastern Pennsylvania, call the immigration attorneys at Cornerstone Law Firm for help.

For more on Naturalization, check out these resources: