How do people become US citizens?

Anonymous asked this question on 7/13/2000:

In what ways can someone become a U.S. citizen?

budgetanalyst gave this response on 7/13/2000:

Basically, by birth, by being born to parents who are citizens, or by naturalization. (Naturalization is a legal process that makes a person a citizen after certain requirements are met.)

By birth in the United States is the simplest way. The birth certificate is proof of citizenship.

By being born to citizen parents in a country other than the United States is also citizenship by birth, but needs some paperwork to prove it - after all, the birth certificate will be from another country.

Naturalization is more complicated. It is usually preceded by a five year period of residence as a permanent resident, but there are other conditions. There is a general discussion of requirements at the INS site, URL A page at the INS site has more links for details (

Another, unusual, way is by act of Congress. For example, Congress made Winston Churchill an honorary U.S. citizen.

Return to index