How Do You Become a U.S. Citizen?

become-u-s-citizen Credit: Sam Howzit/CC-BY 2.0

Individuals are citizens of the United States through birth within the jurisdiction of the United States, birth with at least one parent who is a U.S. citizen or through a process of naturalization, explains the Department of Homeland Security. Some people outside U.S. jurisdiction also qualify as citizens by birth.

Citizenship through birth is automatic, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. The naturalization process involves first acquiring permanent residency. After maintaining five years of residency, applicants file form N-400, as of 2015. Applicants submit to biometric testing, which consists of fingerprinting and other personal identification data collection. After a criminal screening, candidates complete an interview before the government renders a decision. After an application receives approval, the final step is the Oath of Allegiance, which renounces citizenship ties to all other countries and pledges to uphold the commitments of a U.S. citizen, details About.

For individuals seeking a citizenship through naturalization, requirements for filing for citizenship include permanent residency for those with familial bonds to at least one U.S. citizen, such as a spouse or parent, or those in the military, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Exemptions for certain procedures of the naturalization process vary based on individual circumstances.