Do you have questions about how to become a United States citizen?

There are three main paths to becoming a United States citizen:

  1. Citizenship by Birth: With only very few exceptions, you are a United States citizen if you were born in the United States. This general rule is true even if your parents were undocumented immigrants. The exceptions to this general rule are if your parents were in the United States in a special category, such as diplomats.
  2. Citizenship through Parents: Some people are United States citizens based on their parents being United States citizens. If one or both of your parents were United States citizens when you were born, you may be a citizen even if you were not born in the United States. In addition, some children automatically become citizens when their parents naturalize to become United States citizens.
  3. Citizenship through Naturalization: You can become a United States citizen through the naturalization process.

Citizenship Through Naturalization

The naturalization process allows someone who is not a United States citizen to become a citizen. Generally speaking you first need to be a permanent resident for a certain number of years before you can apply for citizenship. This is true even for spouses of United States citizens. There are other requirements that need to be met in order to qualify for citizenship.

It is very important that you don’t apply for citizenship if you don’t meet all of the requirements. For example, if you apply for citizenship but have criminal convictions that make you deportable, you could find yourself in deportation proceedings instead of becoming a citizen. In addition, your complete immigration file will be reviewed as part of the naturalization process. If you are concerned that there may be any mistakes or misrepresentations in your immigration file, you should speak to an immigration lawyer before you apply.

Learn more about citizenship and the naturalization process

To help you better understand United States citizenship and the naturalization process, I've put together answers to some of the most common questions that I'm asked as an Idaho immigration lawyer:

Frequently Asked Questions About Citizenship and Naturalization