Now that you are married and have a marriage-based green card, you may be wondering when you can apply for U.S. citizenship. If your spouse is a U.S. citizen, you can apply for citizenship not too long after you get your green card. The wait time will be longer if your spouse is a lawful permanent resident rather than a U.S. citizen.
The Timeline of U.S. Citizenship After Marriage
Once you attain status as a lawful permanent resident of the U.S., you can apply for U.S. citizenship after three years as long as you remain married and reside with your U.S. citizen spouse. You can even submit your application as soon as 90 days before you hit the three-year mark. You can also submit your application even if your I-751 petition to remove conditions on residence is still pending. Other applicants must have permanent resident status for at least five years before they become eligible for citizenship.
Once you are eligible for citizenship, you will need to submit the proper paperwork to apply for naturalization, which is the term used to describe the process of becoming a U.S. citizen. Once documents are filed, you will receive a receipt showing your case is pending and will soon be scheduled for an interview. At the interview, the office will review your application and conduct the English and civics exams, unless you qualify for an exemption to the exams. Applicants who receive approval are then scheduled for a naturalization ceremony where they take an oath of allegiance to the United States. After receipt of your naturalization certificate, an applicant can apply for a U.S. passport and register to vote.
U.S. Citizenship Requirements for Married Permanent Residents
To become a U.S. citizen after marriage, you must meet several requirements. You must:
- Be 18 years or older
- Be a permanent resident (green card holder) of the U.S. for at least 3 years
- Have lived within the state in which you are applying for at least 3 months
- Have been living in “marital union” with a U.S. citizen spouse for at least 3 years
- Have had “continuous residence” in the U.S. for at least 3 years
- Be physically present in the U.S. for at least 18 months out the previous 3 years
- Pass an English test and U.S. history and government test
- Demonstrate “good moral character” for the past 3 years
If you meet all these requirements, talk to an immigration attorney now to ensure you understand how to properly submit documentation and application fees and how to succeed during the interview process. Planning ahead will save you time and stress in the future.
Contact an Immigration Attorney for Help with U.S. Citizenship After Marriage
While three years seems like plenty of time to figure out how to prepare your U.S. naturalization application after getting a green card through marriage, it is important to take the right steps and start planning now.
If you are unsure when you can apply for citizenship after getting a green card through marriage, want help demonstrating your eligibility, or have other immigration questions, contact an experienced immigration attorney at The Law Offices of Robert M. Bell, P.A. We are happy to help address your concerns and will fight to help you achieve U.S. citizenship after marriage. To speak with our team, contact us at (954) 241-4209.