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US Government

Becoming a US Citizen

Throughout the history of the United States many people have immigrated to the United States from other countries. These people can become citizens of the United States by going through the legal process outlined below.

What is a citizen?

A citizen is a person who is recognized as legal member of a country.

Rights of a Citizen

Citizens of the United States have certain rights. They can vote in elections, run for public office, work for the government, and are protected by U.S. laws.

Who can become a citizen?

In order to become a citizen a person must first legally immigrate to the U.S. and live here for five years. Immigrants can apply for a permanent resident card called a Green Card. In addition, immigrants must be 18 years old, have demonstrated good moral character, be able to speak and understand English, and be willing to take an oath of loyalty to the United States.


Once an immigrant is eligible for citizenship, they fill out an application called an N-400 form. They send this to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for processing. It can take a while, sometimes more than a year, for the application to be processed.


The person applying will then be asked to be fingerprinted. Their fingerprints will be processed by the FBI in order to check on their background and make sure they haven't committed any major crimes.


The next step is to be interviewed by an immigration officer. The officer will ask the person personal questions about their job, home, family, and background. They will be tested on their ability to read and write English. They will also be tested on their knowledge of the history of the United States. There are around 100 possible questions that they may be asked. The applicant can get the questions ahead of time to study.

Example Questions

Here are a few example questions:

What is the supreme law of the land? (the Constitution)

What is an amendment? (a change or addition to the Constitution)

Who is in charge of the executive branch? (the president)

What are the two parts of the U.S. Congress? (Senate and House of Representatives)

How many U.S. Senators are there? (100)

Taking the Oath

The final step in becoming a U.S. citizen is taking the Oath of Allegiance. This is generally taken in a courtroom with a number of other people. In the oath the person promises to obey the laws of the Constitution and to defend the United States. Once they have taken the oath they receive a Certificate of Naturalization and are officially a U.S. citizen.

Interesting Facts about Becoming a US Citizen Activities To learn more about the United States government:

Branches of Government
Executive Branch
President's Cabinet
US Presidents

Legislative Branch
House of Representatives
How Laws are Made

Judicial Branch
Landmark Cases
Serving on a Jury
Famous Supreme Court Justices
John Marshall
Thurgood Marshall
Sonia Sotomayor
United States Constitution
The Constitution
Bill of Rights
Other Constitutional Amendments
First Amendment
Second Amendment
Third Amendment
Fourth Amendment
Fifth Amendment
Sixth Amendment
Seventh Amendment
Eighth Amendment
Ninth Amendment
Tenth Amendment
Thirteenth Amendment
Fourteenth Amendment
Fifteenth Amendment
Nineteenth Amendment
Checks and Balances
Interest Groups
US Armed Forces
State and Local Governments
Becoming a Citizen
Civil Rights

Voting in the United States
Two-Party System
Electoral College
Running for Office

Works Cited

History >> US Government

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