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▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬  Application for  Citizenship ▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬  

I am a permanent resident, how do I apply for U.S. Citizenship? What are the basic requirements to apply for naturalization?

Generally, to be eligible for naturalization you must:

1. Be 18 or older;
2. Be a permanent resident for a certain amount of time (usually 5 years but less for some individuals) preceding the date of filling the Form N-400, Application for Naturalization;
3. Have lived within the state, or USCIS district with jurisdiction over the applicant’s place of residence, for at least 3 months prior to the date of filing the application;
4. Have continuous residence in the United States as a green card holder for at least 5 years immediately preceding the date of the filing the application;
5. Be physically present in the United States for at least 30 months out of the 5 years immediately preceding the date of filing the application
6. Be a person of good moral character;
7. Have a basic knowledge of U.S. history and government;
8. Be able to read, write, and speak basic English

There are examptions to this rule for someone who:
· Is 55 years old and has been a permanent resident for at least 15 years; or
· Is 50 years old and has been a permanent resident for at least 20 years; or
· Has a permanent physical or mental impairment that makes the individual unable to fulfill these requirements.

The exemptions do not need to be brought attention to officer and do not need to be officially requested. Must meet age and year criteria on date of filing N-400. If exempted from language then one can use an interpreter in their own language.

Exception to Five-Year Rule for People Married to a U.S. Citizen

You need to wait a mere three years to apply for U.S. citizenship if, during that time, you have been a permanent (or conditional) resident married to, as well as living with, a U.S. citizen. (See the Immigration and Nationality Act at I.N.A. Section 319(a) or 8 U.S.C. section 1430(a).) You will need to provide proof that you qualify along with your application.

This exception applies even if you did not get your green card through this marriage. So, for example, you could have gotten a green card through your employer, then married a U.S. citizen soon after, and you still only need to wait for three years from the date of your marriage to apply for citizenship.

You will, however, need to stay married to your U.S. citizen spouse all the way through to your citizenship interview. The exception won’t work if you separate or divorce legally prior to your interview, or even if you choose to stop living with your spouse. Unfortunately, you will also lose the exception if your spouse dies before your naturalization interview.

When can I apply for naturalization?

You may be able to apply for naturalization if you are at least 18 years of age and have been a permanent resident of the United States:

  • For at least 5 years; or
  • For at least 3 years during which time you have been, and continue to be, married to and living in a marriage relationship with your U.S. citizen spouse; or
  • While currently serving honorably in the U.S. military, with at least 1 year of service, and you apply for citizenship while in the military, or within 6 months of discharge.
  • Certain spouses of U.S. citizens and those who served in the U.S. military during a past war or are serving currently in combat may be able to file for naturalization sooner than noted above.

What if I had a Break in Continuous Presence?

If there is break in residency due to absence, a person may reapply after 4 years and one month. Of the person is able to naturalize after 5 years but had a break due to absence, she may reapply after two years and one month.

How do I apply for naturalization?

To apply for naturalization, file a Form N-400, Application for Naturalization with USCIS in alternative you can file for Citizenship online.

Disability to learn English

If an Applicants for naturalization is unable learn English or the U.S. history because of a physical or developmental disability or mental impairment he or she must submit Form N-648 when he or she files Form N-400, Application for Naturalization. A certifying medical professional must complete this form within six months of submission. So ask your doctor to fill out the N-648 Form before submitting N-400 Application.

How to Request Accommodations for Naturalization Interview

Accommodations are to be noted on N400, Part 3. If you are requesting an accommodation, please  provide documentation. An accommodation is a modification based upon a disability and not the same as an N-648 based exception or an exemption. Examples of accommodation: Blind person will be provided with Braille. Deaf person will be provided with sign language interpreter. Accommodations may be given to persons with Medical condition, such as confined to home. It’s important to follow up with USCIS Contact Center well in advance after the interview has been scheduled to be sure the accommodation is in place even if noted on the N400.

How to Request Exception for Naturalization Interview
Exception must be requested on N-648 and it is recommended that N-648 is to file concurrently with N-400. As of 11/21/2022 only accept version 8/19/2022 for Form N-648. As per updated policy in 2022 now Form N-648 can be certified through a telehealth appointment as long as it happens in real time. N-648 must also state whether oath should be exempt.

Oath of allegiance 

Effective July 21, 2015, new guidance (PA-2015-001) in the USCIS Policy Manual clarifies the eligibility requirements for modifications to the Oath of Allegiance.

During the Oath ceremony candidates for citizenship normally declare that they will “bear arms on behalf of the United States” and “perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States” when required by the law. Some individuals have problems with his based on their religious believes.

An individual may be eligible to exclude these two clauses based on religious training and belief or a conscientious objection. The new guidance clarifies that a candidate:

May be eligible for modifications based on religious training and belief, or conscientious objection arising from a deeply held moral or ethical code.

  • Is not required to belong to a specific church or religion, follow a particular theology or belief, or to have had religious training in order to qualify.
  • May submit, but is not required to provide, an attestation from a religious or other type of organization, as well as other evidence to establish eligibility.”

Waivers for oath also can be given to persons who are not mentally competent to take Oath.

Cleveland Immigration Lawyer


Frequently Asked Questions


Many permanent residents are concerned that they became stranded outside the U.S. due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Some might have been unable to arrange travel home, or worried about becoming ill when traveling, or ill themselves. There is no blanket rule excusing such absences, but you will at least have an opportunity to explain that you didn’t intend to break the continuity of your residence.

USCIS can decide you abandoned your permanent residence if you moved to another country intending to live there permanently, or if you left the United States and remained outside the country for a long time.

It is not a question of how much time one has spent outside of the U.S. It’s more a question of whether you intended your trip to be temporary. Usually any trip for six months or less won’t be questioned.

Am I allowed to smoke weed?    

USCIS is issuing policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to clarify that violations of federal controlled substance law, including violations involving marijuana, are generally a bar to establishing good moral character for naturalization, even where that conduct would not be an offense under state law. The policy guidance also clarifies that an applicant who is involved in certain marijuana-related activities may lack good moral character if found to have violated federal law, even if such activity has been decriminalized under applicable state laws.

Do I need my passport to apply for naturalization?

You do not need a passport to apply for naturalization. Bring it to your interview.

 Do I need to have a current green card to apply for citizenship?

To apply for naturalization, you must renew your Green Card once it has expired before filing for naturalization.

What should I do if my case for Naturalization was administratively closed because I did not come to the interview because of an illness?

File a motion to reopen the case.  You have to do it within one year from the closing date.

What if I did not register for Selective Service between 18 and 26 years of age? Will it affect my application for Naturalization?

Yes, the USCIS officer may find that you are not a person of good moral character. However, you are not permanently barred from Naturalization. If you are over 31 ears old you should be eligible for naturalization.

Can the USCIS office ask question about my conduct 10 years ago?

The officer should look into your conduct during the last file years prior to application for Naturalization. However, if the officer determines that you are not have been rehabilitated or your conduct is relevant to your prior acts then the office may question you about your prior conduct to determine if you are a person of good moral character.

Can the government start deportation proceedings based on application for Naturalization and interview. 

Yes, if your conduct is a ground for deportation.

Can I pay my application fee with a credit card?

Immigration Reform

The Application fee for Form N-400, Application for Naturalization is $680. Lots of eligible permanent residents find this fee very expensive.  USCIS is planning to start accepting credit cards as a payment option for the naturalization fee.

USCIS is considering to implement a partial waiver (e.g., 50%) in the case of applicants whose income is more than 150% and no greater than 200% of the federal
poverty level, or a scaled adjustment to the fee based on a range of income levels.


There are lots of resources available on the USCIS  web site regarding Naturalization.

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