Naturalization Fact Sheet

The United States has a long history of welcoming immigrants from all parts of the world. During the last decade, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) welcomed more than 7.4 million naturalized citizens into the fabric of our nation. In fiscal year 2018, over 757,000 people were naturalized.

Deciding to become a U.S. citizen can be a very important milestone in an immigrant’s life. Individuals must demonstrate a commitment to the unifying principles that bind us as Americans and, in return, will enjoy many of 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;
  • Be a lawful permanent resident (green card holder);
  • 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 knowledge of U.S. government and history;
  • Demonstrate attachment to the principles of the Constitution and well disposition to the good order and happiness of the United States; and,
  • Be willing and able to take the Oath of Allegiance.

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 individuals who are exempt from some of the general requirements for naturalization.

  • Individuals who apply for naturalization as spouses of U.S. citizens may be eligible do so 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 any particular residence or physical presence requirement.
  • 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.
  • 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.

All persons filing an Application for Naturalization who have submitted a complete application along with all required documents will be scheduled for an interview with a USCIS officer. Those applicants found qualified are scheduled for an oath ceremony before a judge or an officer delegated the authority by the Director of USCIS to administer the Oath of Allegiance. Applicants do not become U.S. citizens until they have taken the Oath.

Naturalization Statistics[1]

  • Since 2009, USCIS welcomed approximately 620,000 to 780,000 citizens each year during naturalization ceremonies across the United States and around the world.
  • In FY 2018, 73 percent of all naturalized citizens resided in 10 states (in descending order): California, Florida, New York, Texas, New Jersey, Illinois, Massachusetts, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Washington.
  • In FY 2018, the leading metropolitan areas of residence were New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA (15 percent), Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA (7.8 percent), and Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, FL (7.3 percent).
  • In FY 2018, the top countries of origin for naturalization were in the following descending order:  Mexico, India, Philippines, Cuba, and People’s Republic of China.

The INA also provides for the automatic acquisition of U.S. citizenship or naturalization of children who are under the age of 18.

  • A child under the age of 18, who is a lawful permanent resident residing in the United States in the legal and physical custody of a U.S. citizen parent, may automatically acquire U.S. citizenship. To obtain evidence of U.S. citizenship, an Application for Certificate of  Citizenship, Form N-600, must be filed on behalf of the child.
  • A child who is residing abroad and who is temporarily present in the U.S. based on a lawful admission, may be eligible to naturalize while under the age of 18 if he or she has at least one parent who is a citizen of the United States, and if the parent (or qualifying grandparent) meets certain physical presence requirements in the United States through Form N-600K.
  • There are exemptions benefiting children of active-duty members of the military stationed abroad on their service member parent(s)’ orders in Form N-600K.

For additional information about USCIS and its programs, visit www.uscis.gov.

 


[1] FY18 statistics may be subject to change based upon the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Office of Immigration Statistics.

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USCIS Expands FIRST: A Fully Digital FOIA System

WASHINGTON— USCIS is announcing the expansion of its digital Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Immigration Records System (FIRST). FIRST is the only system in the U.S. government that allows users to submit and track FOIA requests and receive documents digitally. This process will save time, improve efficiency, and reduce potential errors that can occur with manually handling paper.

Starting today, FOIA requestors with a USCIS online account can submit requests online for their own records. Soon, they will be able to submit online requests for non-A-File material (policies, communications, etc.) Later this year, USCIS online account holders can make requests on behalf of another person.

“As USCIS continues to move the nation’s legal immigration system away from paper-based services to an electronic future, I am excited to implement the first fully digital FOIA system, and the benefits it will bring for FOIA requestors who take advantage of this service,” said Kenneth Cuccinelli, acting director of USCIS. “FIRST brings the antiquated FOIA process into the 21st century and makes it a more efficient and easy process.”

In May 2018, USCIS announced the initial rollout of FIRST, which allowed requestors to create a USCIS online account to receive requested documents digitally. This enabled requestors to login to their account, track requests, and download documents. Since the initial rollout of FIRST’s capabilities, users have created more than 77,000 USCIS online accounts to manage and receive FOIA responses.

To establish a USCIS online account to take advantage of FIRST, please visit first.uscis.gov. For more information on USCIS and our programs, please visit uscis.gov or follow us on Twitter (@uscis), Instagram (/uscis), YouTube (/uscis), and Facebook (/uscis).

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Grace Period Extended for Previous Edition of Form I-918

We are extending the grace period for the previous edition of Form I-918, Petition for U Nonimmigrant Status, including Supplement B, U Nonimmigrant Status Certification, through Dec. 31, 2019. Starting Jan. 1, 2020, we will only accept a Form I-918 with edition date 04/24/19.

The current edition of Form I-918 available on the USCIS website is dated 04/24/19. We previously indicated that starting July 2, 2019, we would only accept the 04/24/19 edition. USCIS understands that a two-month transition period may provide a limited grace period specifically for Form I-918, Supplement B, U Nonimmigrant Status Certifications, so we have extended this grace period. You can find the edition date at the bottom of the page on the form and instructions.

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USCIS Aims to Decrease Processing Times for N-400 and I-485

USCIS will implement a national strategy to decrease differences in processing times based on location for Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, and Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status.

Since the end of 2015, we have experienced an increase in processing times due to higher than expected volumes received during fiscal years (FY) 2016 and 2017 that did not decrease as originally projected. FY 2017 receipts were up 15.6% from FY 2016, and FY 2016 receipts were up 25.5% from FY 2015. The increased filing volumes did not affect our field offices equally, which resulted in some disparity in the processing times among field offices.

As we shift caseloads between field offices to decrease processing times, we may schedule applicants to appear for an interview at a field office outside of their normal jurisdiction. Applicants may receive an interview appointment notice or other types of notices (such as a Request for Evidence) from a field office outside of their normal jurisdiction. However, these caseload changes will not affect where applicants attend their biometrics appointments. We will still direct them to the nearest application support center. Applicants should follow the instructions on any notices they receive from USCIS.

USCIS remains committed to adjudicating applications, petitions, and requests for immigration benefits as effectively and efficiently as possible in accordance with all applicable laws, policies, and regulations while securing the integrity of the immigration system.

If you have questions about an appointment notice we send you, you may contact the USCIS Contact Center.

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USCIS Will No Longer Accept I-407 at International Field Offices

Beginning July 1, USCIS will no longer accept Form I-407, Record of Abandonment of Lawful Permanent Resident Status at international field offices by mail or in person.

Individuals who wish to voluntarily record abandonment of their lawful permanent resident (LPR) status must submit Form I-407 via mail to:

USCIS Eastern Forms Center
Attn: I-407 unit
124 Leroy Road
PO Box 567
Williston, VT 05495

We anticipate that processing times at the Eastern Forms Center, from receipt to completion, will be within 60 days, which does not include mailing time to or from outside of the United States.

In very rare circumstances, a U.S. embassy, U.S. consulate, or USCIS international field office may accept a Form I-407 in person if an individual needs immediate proof that they have abandoned LPR status.

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