Legal Word of the Day
Entry: Naturalization
Pronunciation: na – chu – rah - li – zah – schun
Definition: process by which a person becomes a citizen of country that he or she was not born in
In general, most countries have at least three basic requirements for naturalization, including: (i) must live as a full-time resident for a minimum period of time in the country, (ii) must promise to follow all the country’s laws, and (iii) must pledge an allegiance to the country. Some countries also forbid dual citizenship (i.e. you must give up the citizenship of one country to receive your new citizenship).

In the United States, Article I, Section 8, Clause 4 of the U.S. Constitution grants Congress the power to establish naturalization laws. As such, Congress passed the Immigration and Naturalization Act which sets forth the legal requirements for U.S. naturalization and citizenship.

In the U.S., individuals must meet many requirements before they can become naturalized and receive full citizenship. Some of the general requirements to become naturalized and receive U.S. citizenship include the following:
  • Have resided in the United States as a permanent resident for at least 5 years (or 3 years if you file as a spouse of a U.S. citizen and meet other eligibility requirements)
  • Be at least 18 years old at the time of filing for naturalization
  • Have been legally living in the United States with a permanent residence
  • Demonstrate good moral character
  • Be able to read, write, speak, and understand basic English
  • Demonstrate a basic knowledge of U.S. government and history
  • Take the oath of allegiance to the United States
The U.S. Constitution requires that only natural born citizens can be President or Vice President of the United States. As such, a person who becomes a U.S. citizen through naturalization cannot become President or Vice President of the United States.
Related Legal Words