Immigration Lawyer

Applying for citizenship: when can I file?

Q: How long do I have to wait before applying for citizenship?

A: Ok, so you have the green card. Now…when can you start applying for citizenship? The answer will vary depending on how you obtained the green card. ¬†Once you have submitted your US citizenship application, however, the rest of the citizenship process is the same no matter how you got your green card. If you do not know which of the following categories describes your particular situation, a citizenship lawyer can help determine when you can start applying for citizenship or discuss the citizenship process in general.

Green Card Citizenship

In general, green card holders must wait five years before applying for citizenship. The green card citizenship process also requires a showing of five years of good moral character. Applicants naturalizing via the general green card citizenship route can submit an application up to 90 days before their five year green card anniversary date. However, due to the dramatic decrease in current US citizenship application processing times, applicants must make sure to reschedule any citizenship interview that would take place prior to the five year anniversary date. Attending a citizenship interview before having a full five years of permanent residence may result in the application being denied and the applicant having to reapply and pay an additional filing fee. If you are unsure of when you should start applying for citizenship via the green card citizenship route, please contact a citizenship lawyer at 800.989.6942 or send an email using the form to the right.

Applying for Citizenship via marriage

Lawful permanent residents who have had their green cards and been married to US citizens for three years can take advantage of the marriage citizenship process. To qualify for marriage citizenship, the spouse of the US citizen must be able to show three years of good moral character and must be able to prove that the marriage to the US citizen is ongoing and bona fide (real).  Applicants naturalizing via the marriage citizenship route can submit a US citizenship application up to 90 days before their three year green card anniversary date. However, due to the dramatic decrease in current US citizenship application processing times, applicants must make sure to reschedule any citizenship interview that would take place prior to the three year anniversary date. Attending a citizenship interview before having a full three years of permanent residence may result in the application being denied and the applicant having to reapply and pay an additional filing fee. If you are unsure of when you should start applying for citizenship via the marriage citizenship route, please contact a citizenship lawyer at 800.989.6942 or send an email using the form to the right.

Citizenship Lawyer Questions?

No matter how you obtained your green card, whether through marriage, employment, as a refugee, through asylum or as a member of the military, a citizenship lawyer can explain the citizenship process for your particular situation.

5 Responses to “Applying for citizenship: when can I file?”

  1. James says:

    If a spouse is a permanent resident, would it be faster to file for citizenship first before applying for the other partner’s green card, or apply both at the same time?

  2. Millie says:

    That depends…is the green card holder eligible to file for citizenship right now?

  3. Dana says:

    I have my green card from my employments. Can I apply for citizenship through my marriage?

  4. Jake says:

    Hi,
    I received my green card through lottery in August 2008. I spent 671 days in the US since then without leaving the country for 6 months or more. I am getting married to a US citizen next week. When can I apply for naturalization ?
    Thanks

  5. Won Bae park says:

    I just got my green card last year from marriage, I have been married since 2006 . My green card is permanent cause I applied after 2 years , can I apply for citizenship ?

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