Home > Citizenship FAQs > What are the basic requirements that I must meet before I can apply to become a U.S. citizen?

In order to apply for citizenship (often called naturalization) you must meet all of the following requirements:

  • Be a lawful permanent resident of the United States (green card holder);
  • Be 18 years of age or older;
  • Have been a permanent resident for at least five years (only three years if married to a U.S. citizen);
  • Be a person of good moral character;
  • Have been physically present in the U.S. for at least half of the five years;
  • Not have been absent from the U.S. for more than one year. Absences of more than six months, however, create a presumption that you have abandoned your permanent residency; and
  • Have a basic understanding of written and spoken English and U.S. history.