What You Need to Know
There are two ways to become a United States (U.S.) citizen – by birth or through naturalization.
To become a citizen at birth, you must:
- Be born in the U.S or in certain territories or outlying possessions of the United States, that are subject to the jurisdiction of the United States
- Have a parent or parents who were citizens at the time of your birth
- If you were born outside the U.S., you must meet these requirements outlined by the U.S. Department of State
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). To become a citizen by naturalization, you must:
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) provides a wealth of resources on how to become a citizen.
- If you plan to apply for citizenship through naturalization, become familiar with the naturalization process.
- Read the Path to U.S. Citizenship for details on the most common paths to U.S. citizenship
- Visit the USCIS Citizenship Resource Center
- Read A Guide To Naturalization
- Watch short video that explains the naturalization process and general eligibility requirements
- For Permanent Residents, read I am a Permanent Resident. How do I apply for citizenship?
- Access the appropriate Citizenship and Naturalization Based Forms
- If your biological or adoptive parent(s) became U.S. citizens before you reached the age of 18, you may already be a U.S. citizen and not need to apply for naturalization. For more information, visit USCIS’s Citizenship Through Parents page.
The USCIS Citizenship Resource Center is designed to help you through the naturalization process.