Citizenship Frequently Asked Questions

HIAS Pennsylvania helps qualified lawful permanent residents in the Greater Philadelphia area apply for U.S. citizenship. Our services are free for eligible low-income individuals. To see if you qualify, please call us at 215-832-0900.

Who is eligible to apply for citizenship?

 To be eligible for naturalization, you must:

  • Be at least 18 years of age
  • Have had a green card for at least 5 years — or 3 years if you are married to and living with a U.S. citizen*
  • Demonstrate continuous residence in the U.S. for at least 5 years before submitting your application
  • Demonstrate that you have been physically present in the U.S. for at least 30 months out of the last 5 years before submitting your application
  • Show that you have lived at least 3 months in your state prior to applying
  • Show that you are a person of good moral character
  • Be able to read, write, and speak basic English**
  • Successfully answer questions about U.S. history and civics**
  • Show attachment to the U.S. and take a meaningful oath of allegiance to the United States

* You can submit your citizenship application 3 months before completing your 5 or 3 years as a lawful permanent resident (a.k.a. green card holder)

How much does it cost to apply for citizenship?

The filing fee for the citizenship application is currently $725 (applicants 75 and older need only pay $640). However, low-income individuals may be eligible for a fee waiver. If approved, a fee waiver means the citizenship application is free. HIAS PA will help you apply for the fee waiver application if you qualify.

Does everyone have to take the history/civics test?

Applicants who are unable to learn or remember the information on the history/civics exam due to a physical or developmental disability or a mental impairment may be able to obtain a medical waiver. To obtain a medical waiver, you will need the assistance of a medical doctor. HIAS PA can help eligible individuals apply for the waiver.

Do I have to take the history/civics test in English?

Applicants may take the history/civics exam in their own language if:

  • 50/20 Rule: the applicant is at least 50 years old and has been a lawful permanent resident for 20 years or more
  • 55/15 Rule: the applicant is at least 55 years old and has been a lawful permanent resident for 15 years or more
  • Applicants aged 65 and older who have been lawful permanent residents for at least 20 years can take the test in their own language and they are given a simpler version of the exam

How can I get free help studying for the history/civics test?

HIAS PA and our partners in the Philadelphia Citizenship Action Network (PCAN) offer free citizenship classes throughout the year to prepare individuals for the naturalization exam. Currently, all classes are being held online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. To learn about current classes and get placed on our waiting list, email Mary Clark at or call HIAS PA at 215-832-0900.

PCAN partners include HIAS PA, New World Association, Esperanza Immigration Legal Services, Community Learning Center, Center for Literacy, Indochinese American Council, and District 1199C Training & Upgrading Fund.

For more information about naturalization requirements, visit

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