A person may become a U.S. citizen either at birth or through naturalization.
A person born in the United States or certain territories or outlying possessions of the United States automatically becomes a citizen of the United States. In this instance, one’s birth certificate is proof of citizenship. Under certain conditions, citizenship is also acquired if one is born outside the United States and is the child of at least one U.S. citizen parent.
To become a citizen after birth, one may become a citizen of the United States through naturalization. Naturalization is the process by which U.S. citizenship may be acquired by a foreign national.
One may qualify to become a citizen of the United States through Naturalization if:
- he/she has been a permanent resident for at least 5 years and meets all other eligibility requirements;
- he/she has been a permanent resident for at least 3 years and meets all eligibility requirements to file as a spouse of a U.S. citizen;
- he/she has qualifying service in the U.S. armed forces and meet all other eligibility requirements;
- he/she is the child of a U.S. citizen, who was born outside the U.S., and currently resides outside the U.S., and all other eligibility requirements are met.