Applying for U.S. citizenship can happen a few different ways. The key to applying for citizenship is ensuring that you are eligible before you begin Form N-400 Application for Naturalization.

The citizenship application is the longest the USCIS offers and rightfully so. U.S. citizenship is a privilege only awarded to those who are able to demonstrate they belong in the United States.

During 2017, the USCIS approved more than 770,000 U.S. citizenship applications.

Becoming a U.S. citizen can be difficult and time-consuming but well worth it.

You can apply for citizenship after birth if you meet a few requirements. One way is to apply for citizenship through parents.

Citizenship through parents

In order to apply for citizenship through your parents, one of both parents must be a U.S. citizen already. The requirements are different for citizenship applicants who have two U.S. citizen parents versus one U.S. citizen parent.

The requirements are also different if your mother is a U.S. citizen versus if your father is a U.S. citizen.

To acquire citizenship through your parents you will have to prove with concrete evidence they are indeed your biological parents.

Citizenship through naturalization

Applying for citizenship through naturalization is done after holding a green card for a number of years depending on your situation.

If you got a conditional green card valid for two years that you acquired through marriage you can apply for naturalization after three years.

If you received a green card valid for ten years, you can complete your citizenship application after five years of holding a green card.

Other requirements include:

  • Proving you have been physically present in the United States for at least half the time is required for you to apply for citizenship. That means conditional residents must prove they’ve been physically present for one and a half years while more traditional green card holders must prove physical presence for two and a half years.
  • You must also have lived within the state or USCIS district that will be handling your application for at least three months.
  • Being 18 years old or older.
  • Be able to read, write, and speak English and have knowledge of U.S. civics.
  • Be a person of good moral character.

Applying for naturalization

Once you have met the requirements for citizenship you can complete the U.S. citizenship application. The questions on the citizenship application range from biographical information to historical information about your family and information about trips you’ve taken outside the United States.

Depending on the answers you give you will have to provide evidence that your answers are truthful. The USCIS calls this proof “supporting evidence”. Here’s an example. If you want to prove you are a legal permanent resident you would submit a photocopy of your valid green card both front and back.

Once you’ve applied for U.S. citizenship you will mail the application to the USCIS and wait for a response to your case.

The processing time can be lengthy, sometimes up to a year.

If your application is accepted you will go through a background check that includes a biometrics appointment and you’ll also be required to do an interview with an immigration officer.

You will take the English test and U.S. civics test during the interview.

If your U.S. citizenship application is successful you will become a naturalized citizen after swearing the oath of allegiance.