Naturalization means you want to apply to become a United States citizen. If you are a permanent resident — that is, someone with a green card — the basic rule is that you can apply for U.S. citizenship when you have lived in the United States as a lawful permanent resident for at least five years. Check your green card (permanent resident card) for the exact date on which you became a permanent resident.

There is an exception to the five year rule – it will take only three years if you continue to be married to the US citizen that originally petitioned for you.

In order to become a naturalized US citizen you must meet the criteria listed below.

Requirements to become a naturalized US citizen:

  • be at least 18 years old;
  • depending on how you received your green card, a three or five year period of continuous residence and physical presence in the United States is required;
  • reside in the State in which you are filing;
  • read, write, and speak English;
  • a knowledge and understanding of U.S. history and government;
  • good moral character;
  • willingness to adopt and defend the principles of the U.S. Constitution.


Note that Certificates of Citizenship and Naturalization both serve as proof of U.S. Citizenship, but the eligibility requirements differ. A Certificate of Citizenship is available to people who were born abroad and automatically acquired or derived U.S. citizenship through birth to or adoption by a U.S. citizen parent(s), while a Certificate of Naturalization is given to a lawful permanent resident after he or she fulfills the requirements to become a naturalized US Citizen.

Contact the Law Office of Raphael M. Scheetz to discuss how we can help you.

I can’t thank Mr. Scheetz enough for his help with my naturalization case. I lost all my hope and was lucky to have met him. He is a very professional and results driven lawyer as well as a great person.

– Kuldeep R.


I was so lucky that Mr. Scheetz was my Immigration Lawyer. Everything seemed to turn from black to white after meeting with him. His immediate attention and action were extremely impressive. Thank you!

– Gina B.

I am so grateful for what Mr. Scheetz did for my cousin William J., he saved his life. And also he proved me wrong. My family and I are eternally thankful for all his efforts.

– Mike N.