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Naturalization Fact Sheet

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Naturalization is the most significant immigration benefit the United States offers. Over the last decade, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) welcomed more than 8 million naturalized citizens into our great American family. In fiscal year 2019, we naturalized 843,593 people.

Deciding to apply for U.S. citizenship is a very important milestone in an immigrant’s life. Intending citizens must demonstrate a commitment to the unifying principles that bind us as Americans and, in return, will enjoy the rights and privileges that are fundamental to U.S. citizenship.

About the Naturalization Process

Individuals age 18 or older seeking to become a citizen of the United States may apply for naturalization by filing an Application for Naturalization, Form N-400. The N-400 application is one of the forms available for online filing. To be eligible for naturalization, an applicant must fulfill certain eligibility requirements set forth in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

These general eligibility requirements specify that the applicant must:

  • Be at least 18 years of age old;
  • Show that you are a lawfully admitted permanent resident of the United States;
  • Have resided in the United States as a lawful permanent resident for at least five years;
  • Have been physically present in the United States for at least 30 months;
  • Be a person of good moral character;
  • Be able to speak, read, write and understand the English language;
  • Have and understanding of the fundamentals of the history, and of the principles and form of government, of the United States;
  • Demonstrate attachment to the principles of the Constitution and be well-disposed to the good order and happiness of the United States; and,
  • Be willing and able to take the Oath of Allegiance.

If you submit a complete Form N-400 application along with all required documents, we will schedule you for an interview with a USCIS officer. If the officer finds that you are eligible, they will schedule you for a naturalization ceremony. You do not become a U.S. citizen until you have taken the Oath of Allegiance.

The INA also allows certain children under the age of 18 to automatically acquire U.S. citizenship. For more information, see our I am the Child of a U.S. Citizen and U.S. Citizenship for an Adopted Child webpages.

Exemptions

Special naturalization provisions exempt certain applicants from one or more of the general requirements for naturalization. Spouses of U.S. citizens and members of the military constitute the main categories of aliens who are exempt from some of the general requirements for naturalization. These exemptions include:

  • Spouses of U.S. citizens may be eligible to apply for naturalization three years after being admitted as lawful permanent residents, rather than the five years prescribed under the general provisions;
  • Spouses of U.S. citizens stationed abroad may not be required to meet general residence or physical presence requirements;
  • Members of the military who served honorably during certain periods of conflict may be eligible for naturalization even though they have not been admitted as lawful permanent residents and even if they are under the age of 18; or
  • Members of the military who served honorably for at least one year, at any time, and apply for naturalization within a certain time after their military service, are also exempt from the general residence and physical presence requirements.

Fiscal Year 2019 Naturalization Statistics¹

  • The number of U.S. naturalizations rose to 843,593 persons in 2019, up 11% from 761,901 in 2018. The number of applications for citizenship in 2019 was down to 830,560 from 837,168 applications in 2018. The number of naturalizations exceeds the number of applications due to previously adjudicated application denials and application processing times.
  • The top five countries of origin for naturalization were in the following descending order: Mexico (14.5%), India (7.7%), Philippines (5.2%), People’s Republic of China (4.7%) and Cuba (4.3%).
  • About 70% of all naturalized citizens resided in 10 states (in descending order): California (17.6%), Texas (11.6%), Florida (11.4%), New York (10.1%), New Jersey (4.3%), Illinois (3.6%), Georgia (3.1%), Virginia (2.8%), Massachusetts (2.7%) and Pennsylvania (2.5%).
  • The leading metropolitan areas of residence were New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA (12.8%), Miami-Fort Lauderdale -West Palm Beach, FL (7.2%) Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA (6.7%), and Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX  (6.7%).

¹ FY19 statistics may be subject to change based upon the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Office of Immigration Statistics.

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