I want to become a U.S. citizen…Now what?


Naturalization is the legal process of obtaining U.S. citizenship after birth. A naturalized citizen is allowed all the rights and privileges of natural born citizens, including the right to vote, serve on a jury and participate in government and the political process. The Naturalization Act was the country’s first law which regulated the naturalization of foreign born Americans passed by the United States Congress on March 26, 1790. Now, the Immigration Act of 1965 governs naturalization.


The naturalization process consists of the following requirements:


  • A specific period of continuous residence in the United States meeting the requirements of physical presence within the U.S. over a certain time period;
  • State residency requirements for at least three months for filing purposes;
  • The ability to speak, read and write basic English;
  • A knowledge and understanding of United States government and history;
  • Attachment to the principles of the Constitution;
  • Being of good moral character and;
  • Having a favorable disposition toward the United States.


On September 18, 2017, Brooklyn’s federal court took part in a naturalization ceremony today where 51 diverse men and women became United States citizens, in front of 19 federal judges. Chief Judge Dora Irizarry stated “The men and women who will become citizens today and the thousands who are naturalized every year have given up everything, their countries, families and homes. It was hard work, hope and relentless faith in this American dream of immigrants that built this country and made it great.”


Elektra B. Yao is a multilingual Immigration Attorney and the owner of The Law Office of Elektra B. Yao. You can contact her at (917)587-9189 and at Elektra@yaofirm.com. Please visit her website at www.yaofirm.com