Chapter 1 - Purpose and Background

A. Purpose

Naturalization is the conferring of U.S. citizenship after birth by any means whatsoever. [1] There are various ways to become a U.S. citizen through the process of naturalization. This chapter addresses the general naturalization requirements. [2] 

The applicant has the burden of establishing by a preponderance of the evidence that he or she meets the requirements for naturalization. 

B. General Eligibility Requirements

The following are the general naturalization requirements that an applicant must meet in order to become a U.S. citizen: [3] 

General Eligibility Requirements for Naturalization 

The applicant must be age 18 or older at the time of filing for naturalization

The applicant must be a lawful permanent resident (LPR) for at least five years before being eligible for naturalization

The applicant must have continuous residence in the United States as an LPR for at least five years immediately preceding the date of filing the application and up to the time of admission to citizenship

The applicant must be physically present in the United States for at least 30 months out of the five years immediately preceding the date of filing the application

The applicant must have lived within the state or USCIS district with jurisdiction over the applicant’s place of residence for at least three months prior to the date of filing

The applicant must demonstrate good moral character for five years prior to filing for naturalization, and during the period leading up to the administration of the Oath of Allegiance

The applicant must have an attachment to the principles of the U.S. Constitution and be well disposed to the good order and happiness of the United States during all relevant periods under the law

The applicant must be able to read, write, and speak and understand English and have knowledge and an understanding of U.S. history and government

C. Legal Authorities

  • INA 3128 CFR 312 – Educational requirements for naturalization

  • INA 3168 CFR 316 – General requirements for naturalization

  • INA 318 – Prerequisite to naturalization, burden of proof


1. [^] See INA 101(a)(23).

2. [^] See INA 316. See relevant parts in Volume 12 [12 USCIS-PM] for other naturalization provisions and requirements. 

3. [^] See INA 316.

INA 312, 8 CFR 312 - Educational requirements for naturalization

INA 316, 8 CFR 316 - General requirements for naturalization

INA 318 - Prerequisite to naturalization, burden of proof

INA 332, 8 CFR 332 - Naturalization administration, executive functions

INA 334, 8 CFR 334 - Application for naturalization; declaration of intention

INA 335, 8 CFR 335 - Investigation of applicants, examination of applications

INA 336, 8 CFR 336 - Hearings on denials of applications for naturalization


No appendices available at this time.

Technical Update - Replacing the Term “Foreign National”

October 08, 2019

This technical update replaces all instances of the term “foreign national” with “alien” throughout the Policy Manual as used to refer to a person who meets the definition provided in INA 101(a)(3) [“any person not a citizen or national of the United States”].



POLICY ALERT - Security-Related Positions Abroad

June 10, 2013

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is issuing policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to address amendments to section 1059(e) of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2006 by Public Law 112-227.



POLICY ALERT - Comprehensive Citizenship and Naturalization Policy Guidance

January 07, 2013

USCIS is issuing updated and comprehensive citizenship and naturalization policy guidance in the new USCIS Policy Manual.


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