Citizenship by naturalization is the most common method for immigrant eligibility. The immigrant must be for at-least five (5) years of continuous physical presence with good moral character as a permanent resident of the United States. If the candidate’s permanent residence is through marriage to US citizen, then the statutory wait time is three (3) years for citizenship filing.

Continuous and physical presence

The permanent resident need to be in the United States for at-least five (5) years continuously along with establishment of residence somewhere. The permanent resident cannot be outside the United States for more than six (6) months in each of the past five (5) years. If the permanent resident leaves the United States for more than six (6) months but less than one (1) year, then the continuous residence is broken, unless you can demonstrate that you did not abandon the residency. The permanent resident also needs to live at-least last three (3) in any state prior to filing the N-400 citizenship application.

Good moral character

Permanent Resident need to show that he/she has good moral character for the past five (5) years. USCIS will also look for any convictions of crimes that they deem make you ineligible for citizenship.

Good moral character is statutorily required. 8 U.S.C. § 1101(f).

Below are the following list of crimes that USCIS may deem to make someone ineligible for citizenship. The list below is not exhaustive and only reflects some of the important categories of questionable moral character.

1. Murder.

2. Have committed and convicted of a crime of moral turpitude.

3. Conviction of aggravated felony.

4. Drug conviction except for simple possession in some cases. (case by case fact situation for exceptions).

5. Have been in jail for 180 days or more due to conviction during the statutory period of 5 years.

6. Committed and convicted of two or more gambling offenses.

7. Earned principal income from illegal gambling.

8. Involved in prostitution offenses.

9. False testimony under oath in order to gain immigration benefits.

10. Smuggling illegal aliens.

11. Practice polygamy.

12. Habitual drunkard.

13. Convicted of evading and deserting service in the armed forces during war.


Knowledge of English & allegiance to the United States

Permanent Resident need to demonstrate basic understanding of English language in oral and written format. Elder individuals over the age or 50 and 55 and lived in the United States for a certain number of years are exempt for English language requirement. The candidate also need to pass the US history and form of government test.The candidate also need to forego any allegiance to a foreign government and must pledge allegiance to the United States.