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Deciding to become a U.S. citizen is one of the most important decisions in an individual’s life. If you decide to apply to become a U.S. citizen, you will be showing your commitment to the United States and your loyalty to its Constitution. In return, you are rewarded with all the rights and privileges that are part of U.S. citizenship.

U.S citizenship can be obtained by birth, derivation or naturalization:

  • To become a citizen at birth, you must: Have been born in the United States or certain territories or outlying possessions of the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction of the United States; or had a parent or parents who were citizens at the time of your birth (if you were born abroad) and meet other requirements.
  • To become a citizen after birth, you must: apply for “derived” or “acquired” citizenship through parents. Persons who were born outside of the United States to a U.S. citizen parent or parents may acquire or derive U.S. citizenship at birth. Persons may also acquire citizenship after birth, but before the age of 18, through their U.S. citizen parents.
  • To become a citizen through naturalization, you must: Have been a permanent resident for at least 5 years and meet all other eligibility requirements, or have been a permanent resident for 3 years or more and meet all eligibility requirements to file as a spouse of a U.S. citizen. Naturalization is the process by which U.S. citizenship is granted to a foreign citizen or national after he or she fulfills the requirements established by Congress in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

U.S. citizens may live and work in the U.S. permanently, and cannot lose this status by extended travel abroad.

U.S. citizens have many benefits and privileges, including the privilege of voting in U.S. elections.

U.S. citizens may petition for the permanent resident status of their parents, spouses, children and siblings.


  • Five years in permanent resident status or three years may be sufficient for those married to U.S. citizens
  • Generally, physical presence, continuity of residence, and good moral character standards.
  • Satisfactory exam results in U.S. government, history, and civics as well as the ability to speak, read, and write English.

If you think you can get the privilege of becoming a U.S citizen, call IACO at 973-472-4648.

For more information about citizenship, go to USCIS web page.

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