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Citizenship and Naturalization in the United States

40 min

Essential Question

  • What are the steps and requirements involved in becoming a U.S. citizen through naturalization? 


  •  Students will analyze the requirements and steps involved in the U.S. naturalization process. 
  • Students will evaluate the importance of naturalization in the American identity. 


  • Begin class by asking students what they think is required of being a good citizen.  Students may say things like voting, volunteering, and serving in the military. Collect responses on chart paper or an online collaborative tool. 
  • Next, discuss the different ways in which someone can become a citizen of the United States. Be sure students understand the difference between a birth-right citizen (anyone born in the United States is automatically a citizen, regardless of the citizenship status of their parents) and becoming a naturalized citizen (someone who is born outside of the United States can migrate here and apply to become a citizen).  
  • Then ask students what they think should be required of people who wish to become a naturalized citizen and write answers on the other half of the poster board. Students may say things like living in the United States for a certain amount of time, being of good character, and taking an oath of allegiance. 


  • After individual exploration, have students pair up to discuss their findings and answer any lingering questions they may have about the naturalization process.  Then, have pairs share their insights with the whole class. 
  • Once students have finished reading, return to the poster board you created at the start. Compare what they thought would be required to become a naturalized citizen with the actual process. Additionally, discuss why it is important to have a process for naturalization. Examples of questions to ask students:  
    • What are some similarities and differences between the requirements and what we originally wrote?
    • Does anything surprise you about the naturalization process? Why?  
    • Why is it important that the United States offers the opportunity for people to become naturalized citizens?  
    • Why is it important that people meet certain standards to become citizens? 


  • Exit Ticket:  Students write a short reflection addressing the essential question: What are the steps involved in becoming a U.S. citizen through naturalization?
  • Exit Ticket Prompt (Optional):  Do you think the current naturalization process is fair and effective? Why or why not?


  • Have students research the citizenship requirements of another country and create a presentation comparing and contrasting the process with the U.S. naturalization process. 

Student Handouts