Applicants for naturalization must make sure that they meet the minimum requirements before submitting their application with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). One must meet all of the requirements - not just some. The website for USCIS has a lot of helpful resources such as a Brief Guide with some basic requirements and a more comprehensive and detailed Naturalization Guide.
An important note to highlight is that in the best of cases the only consequence of having applied when the applicant was not eligible to, is that the applicant has lost some time and money. This happens for example when the applicant does not meet one or more of the basic requirements. There are several other denial reasons however, mainly those that involve grounds of removability or inadmissibility, that will lead to the applicant being placed in removal proceedings.
In general, to be eligible for naturalization, the applicant must be at least 18 years old, be lawfully admitted for permanent residence, be a person of good moral character, have a basic command of the English language, and must also have a basic knowledge of U.S. History and Government. An applicant for naturalization must also show that he or she is attached to the principles of the Constitution of the United States, and will be required to take the Oath of Allegiance. The applicant must also have resided continuously in the U.S. for a period of five years following their lawful admission to permanent residence (three years if the applicant is the spouse of a U.S. citizen) and must be actually physically present in the U.S. for at least two and a half years for most applicants, one and a half years for spouses of U.S. citizens.
Keep in mind also that an absence from the U.S. that is too long will break the continuity of the applicant’s residence in the U.S. for naturalization purposes. It’s important for those frequent travelers to make sure that they review their travel dates carefully to make sure that they meet the minimum requirements.
Stay tunned for Commandment #2: Thou Shall Not Pretend Never Have Been In The Big House (Unless You Truly Haven’t).