Naturalization Acts (United States) (1790, 1795)


The Naturalization Act of 1790 was the first piece of U.S. federal legislation regarding immigration. It was designed to provide a national rule for the process of naturalization.
As a result of varying policies among the states for naturalizing citizens during the 1780s, the U.S. government passed “an act to establish an uniform rule of naturalization” on March 26, 1790. Under provisions of Article I, Section 8, of the Constitution, the measure granted citizenship to “all free white persons” after two years’ residence and provided that the children of citizens born outside the borders of the United States would be “considered as natural born citizens.”
A new Naturalization Act was passed on January 29, 1795, repealing the first act, raising the residency requirement to five years, and requiring three years’ notice of intent to seek naturalization. This greater stringency regarding the naturalization of immigrants was continued in the Alien and Sedition Acts (1798).

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