immigration lawyerIn order for foreign citizens or nationals to be granted U.S. citizenship, they must undergo a process known as “naturalization.” This process is built upon requirements set forth by Congress, which the potential future citizen must fulfill in order to gain citizenship through naturalization. Individuals who would like to apply for naturalization must file Form N-400 (Application for Naturalization). They must then take a civics test in which an officer from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will ask up to ten questions from 100 in English. Six of the ten questions must be answered correctly in order to pass the civics test. There are certain exceptions to this test (mostly regarding the age of the candidate), which exempt from the English language requirement of the civics test.


If you or a loved one require assistance in order to gain citizenship, the Perales Law Firm can help.

Qualifying for Naturalization

Presently, in order for adults to qualify for naturalization, they must also fulfill certain requirements. Individuals must have “permanent resident” status for at least five years as well as meeting all other requirements. In order to file as a spouse of a U.S. citizen, the applicant must have the status of “permanent resident” for three or more years. Those who have served in the Armed Forces may also undergo naturalization as long as they meet all other eligibility requirements.

Naturalization Eligibility Requirements

Green card holders of at least five years must meet certain requirements in order to be able to apply for naturalization. You must:


  • Be 18 years of age or older when filing
  • Be a green card holder for at least five years
  • Have continuous residence in the U.S. as a green card holder
  • Be able to read, write and speak English
  • Have knowledge and an understanding of U.S. history and government
  • Have good moral character

Citizenship Exemptions for Adults Over 50 and Children under 18

Over 50

The civics test comes with a few exemptions and accommodations. English language exceptions exempt certain candidates from the English language requirement of the civics test. In order to qualify, individuals must be 50 years of age or older at the time of filing for naturalization. They must have also lived as permanent residents in the USA for 20 years. Candidates 55 years of age or older who have lived as permanent residents for 15 years are also exempt from the English language requirement.

Under 18

It’s important to point out that naturalization applicants must be 18 years of age or older. This means that children under the age of 18 won’t have to take a civics test in order to become United States citizens. In most cases, citizenship is automatically conferred to the children when a parent naturalizes. In order for this to take place, three requirements must be met: the child must have lawful permanent resident status in the United States, one parent must be a U.S. citizen (by either birth or naturalization), and the child must reside within the United States in the parent’s legal and physical custody.

Success in the Naturalization Process

The path to naturalization may seem frightening and uncertain but with the help of an experienced immigration lawyer, however, you’ll be able to walk the path and accomplish your dream of gaining citizenship. Attorney Marcos Perales has dedicated his life to providing sound legal counsel to individuals in the border area. As a bilingual attorney, Mr. Perales can easily convey even the most confounding aspects of naturalization. Give our law firm a call today to schedule a consultation. We’re ready to guide you on the path towards citizenship!