A person in California who is a legal resident but not yet a citizen can become one via the process of naturalization. In order to be naturalized, a person must meet certain requirements which have been established by Congress and are outlined in the Immigration and Nationality Act. First, the person must acquire a green card which gives them the status of a lawful permanent resident of the United States. After securing lawful permanent resident status, the person must wait for a period of between three and five years.
Age and residency requirements for naturalization
In addition to the green card waiting period requirement, the person applying for naturalization must also be at least 18 years of age and must not have left the United States for more than six months at any time during the required waiting period. The applicant must have been a resident of the state in which they plan to apply for at least three months prior to applying for naturalization.
Good moral character
Another of the naturalization requirements is that the applicant must have good moral character. This means the person must not have been convicted of any serious crimes, like murder, or of any crimes of moral turpitude, like lying to U.S. officials or participating in illegal gambling. Whether the applicant is of good moral character is determined on a case-by-case basis by USCIS naturalization officers.
Testing and military service
There is a two-part test that must be passed in order to secure naturalization. The first part is an English language test that covers speaking, writing, and reading ability. The second part is a civics test that covers the U.S. government and U.S. history knowledge. The applicant must be willing to perform civil service for the country if required or to serve in the military. If the applicant is male and between 18 and 25, he must register with the Selective Service. If all of the naturalization requirements are met, then the applicant may become a citizen of the United States.