What are the Common Citizenship Eligibility Requirements?

N. Madison
N. Madison

The requirements a person must meet to become a citizen typically vary from country to country. Usually, however, citizenship eligibility depends on such factors as the length of time an immigrant has lived in a country; his moral character; and his understanding of the country's language, history, and laws. In addition, a person usually has to complete an application and pay a fee to be eligible for citizenship. Citizenship eligibility interviews may be required as well.

Fingerprints are submitted with the citizenship application process.
Fingerprints are submitted with the citizenship application process.

One of the common citizenship eligibility requirements a person must meet involves residency. In many jurisdictions, a person is required to live in a country for a specific amount of time as a permanent resident before he can become a citizen. For example, in some places, a person must be a permanent resident for five years before he can apply for citizenship. This length of time may be shortened, however, if the immigrant is married to a citizen. In such a case, a person may be permitted to become a citizen after only three years of permanent residency.

In many places, there are also citizenship eligibility requirements that involve a person’s language skills and knowledge of the country of which he wishes to become a citizen. In most cases, a person who wants to become a citizen of a particular country must speak the country's primary language and understand it when it is spoken. He should also have the ability to write in that language and understand its written form. Many countries also require aspiring citizens to learn the basics of the country’s history, laws, government, and constitution.

Common citizenship eligibility requirements often include those related to a person’s moral character as well. For example, a country may deny a person citizenship because of a criminal record. This is particularly true when the party has committed crimes in the country in which he is seeking citizenship. Likewise, if a person lies on a citizenship application or falsifies immigration documents, his chances of gaining citizenship are usually dramatically diminished. The same generally holds true if a person commits a crime in order to gain initial entry to the country of which he wants to become a citizen.

To be eligible for citizenship, a person usually has to complete a citizenship application as well. This application normally requests information about the immigrant, copies of his immigration card, fingerprints, and passport photos. An immigrant typically has to pay a fee when he submits the application, and he may have to submit to a citizenship interview as well.

N. Madison
N. Madison

Nicole’s thirst for knowledge inspired her to become a wiseGEEK writer, and she focuses primarily on topics such as homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. When not writing or spending time with her four children, Nicole enjoys reading, camping, and going to the beach.

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