USA doesn't allow naturalized American citizens to become president. There are 3 restrictions to become president. I cite it from this site.

Question: What are the Requirements to Become President?

Answer: The US Constitution lists three requirements for any individual wishing to become president of the United States. A president must:

  1. be a natural born U.S. citizen. Someone may be born abroad, but only if both parents were citizens of the United States. The only exception to this was for those around at the time the Constitution was adopted. Their requirement was that they had to be a citizen when the Constitution was adopted.

  2. be at least 35 years of age. The youngest president elected was 43 years old. However, there was one president who was even younger. Do you know who he was?

  3. have lived in the United States for at least 14 years to be president. This does not have to be consecutive or even the 14 years leading up to becoming president.

I might accept the 2 and 3, but don't understand why they restrict it to natural-born citizens, especially because naturalized American citizens can become a governor of states.

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    Each state determines its own eligibility requirements for its own governor. Are you certain that all fifty states allow naturalized US citizens? Also, the reasons for the natural-born citizen requirement for the presidency are fairly well covered in the historical record. Have you done any research? If so, what did you find?
    – phoog
    Commented Aug 3, 2017 at 1:33
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    FYI the definition of natural born citizen does not necessarily require that both parents be citizens. The constitution does not specify the full rules and we have not yet had a court ruling on it. Commented Aug 3, 2017 at 12:25
  • @sabbahillel - I have heard Bill Wittle asset that originally it was both parents; but he didn't clarify his sources (it was a 10 second blurb in a big interview)
    – user4012
    Commented Aug 3, 2017 at 13:06
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    @uset4012 As of yet Congress has not yet passed legislation and the corts have not ruled on the issue. Even birth in the US to a non citizen has been assumed but never established. Commented Aug 3, 2017 at 14:38
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    @user4012 as far as I can tell the consensus among mainstream legal scholars is that "natural born" means anyone who is a US citizen without being naturalized. Under current law, such a person could be born in the US with no US citizen parents, or born outside the US with only one US citizen parent who meets certain criteria. Sabahillel is quite right to say, however, that this has never been established by a court, and no attempt hadbeen made to define the term by statute or by regulation.
    – phoog
    Commented Aug 3, 2017 at 23:38

1 Answer 1


Slate has an article about this, which says:

Though their concerns may now seem archaic, the framers were genuinely afraid of foreign subversion. Among their nightmare scenarios was the prospect of a European noble using his money and influence to sway the Electoral College, take command of the American army, and return the nascent nation to the royalist fold. At the time, several European figures—such as France's Marquis de Lafayette, a hero of the Revolutionary War—were quite popular in the New World, so the idea wasn't completely far-fetched.

To buttress this, they cite the Federalist Papers and quote from a letter by John Jay to George Washington. Jay says:

Permit me to hint, whether it would not be wise & seasonable to provide a strong check to the admission of Foreigners into the administration of our national Government; and to declare expressly that the Command in chief of the American army shall not be given to, nor devolve on, any but a natural born Citizen.

Jay and Washington were both founding fathers. Washington attended the convention that wrote the constitution. Jay did not, but he influenced it and advocated for the constitution's passage as one of the contributors to the Federalist Papers.

Note that the president has foreign policy responsibilities. A governor does not (unless you count commerce promotion). So if you agree with the foreign subversion worry, it makes sense that it is more important for the president than a governor.

Also, while some states certainly allow naturalized citizens to be governor (e.g. Arnold Schwarzenegger), it's not necessarily so that all do. Gubernatorial eligibility is based on laws in each state not on federal law. Of course, they may have a fourteenth amendment claim if barred, as the fourteenth guarantees naturalized citizens all the rights of natural-born citizens.

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    Thanks. How about the current attitude among American? The reason it keeps as it has been is because people are still afraid, or more because it is just an inertia reason?
    – Blaszard
    Commented Aug 4, 2017 at 19:18
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    If the fourteenth guarantees naturalized citizens all rights of natural born citizens, does that mean naturalized citizens can be president?
    – user4951
    Commented Mar 11, 2018 at 18:31
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    "the framers were genuinely afraid of foreign subversion". This is what I was taught in Civics class 45 years ago.
    – RonJohn
    Commented May 9, 2023 at 4:46
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    @user4951 "If the fourteenth guarantees naturalized citizens all rights of natural born citizens"... the 14th Amendment does not guarantee that. (Honestly, Google the damned Amendment and read it yourself.
    – RonJohn
    Commented May 9, 2023 at 4:49
  • I read that. ALL right. Including but not limited to right to be chosen as president? Not like it's important, I am just curious how do they have exception
    – user4951
    Commented May 9, 2023 at 15:59

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