Basic Eligibility: You can apply for naturalization if:
1) you have been a lawful permanent resident for five years; or
2) you have been a lawful permanent resident for three years, and have been married to a United States citizen for those three years, and continue to be married to that U.S. citizen; or
3) you are the lawful permanent resident child of a United States citizen parent; or
4) you have qualifying military service
Children under the age of 18 may automatically become citizens when their parents naturalize.
THE NATURALIZATION INTERVIEW: After you file your application you will be notified to appear at an INS service office to be interviewed under oath or affirmation. This interview may not be waived.
If you are an adult, you must show that you have a knowledge and understanding of the history, principles, and form of government of the United States. There is no exemption from this requirement. I have sample questions available to help you prepare for this part of the exam.
You will also be examined on your ability to read, write, and speak English. If on the date of your examination you are more than 50 years old and have been a lawful permanent resident for 20 years or more, or you are 55 years old and have been a lawful permanent resident for at least 15 years, you will be exempt from the English language requirement. If you are exempt, you may take the examination in any language you wish.
THE OATH OF ALLEGIANCE: If your application is approved, you will be required to take the following oath of allegiance to the United States in order to become a citizen: "I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the armed forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God".
If you can not promise to bear arms or perform noncombatant service because of religious training and belief, you may omit those statements when taking the oath. "Religious training and belief" means a person's belief in relation to a supreme being, involving duties superior to those arising from any human relation; but does not include essentially political, sociological, or philosophical views or merely a personal moral code.
THE OATH CEREMONY: You may choose to have the oath of allegiance administered in a ceremony conducted by the INS, or you may request to be scheduled for an oath ceremony in a court that has jurisdiction over your place of residence. At the time of your examination you will be asked to elect either form of ceremony.
You will become a citizen of the United States on the date of the oath ceremony and the Attorney General will issue a Certificate of Naturalization as evidence of your United States citizenship. If you wish to change your name as part of the naturalization process, then you will have to take the oath in court.