How Long After I Get My Green Card Can I Become a Citizen?
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), a section of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), is responsible for the qualifications and determination of eligibility to become a naturalized as a U.S. citizen. The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) is the federal law that defines U.S. immigration policy and citizenship and naturalization eligibility. If you are a U.S. legal permanent resident (LPR) – you have a green card – and you want to become a citizen, you cannot apply for U.S. citizenship to become naturalized until you have lived in the United States for at least five years as a legal permanent resident.
If you are married to a U.S. citizen that statutory as a legal permanent resident may be reduced to three years. In order for this exception to apply, you must be a legal permanent resident that was married to a U.S. citizen during that three-year period.
If you are a conditional resident, not a permanent resident, due to a recent marriage to a U.S. citizen or through a business investor visa, your two years as a conditional resident count towards your total time as a permanent residence. Generally, you must remove your conditions prior to USCIS granting your naturalization application.
Qualifications to Become a U.S. Citizen
In addition to being a legal permanent resident for 5 years, to become a naturalized American citizen you must meet the following requirements.
- • You must have lived in the state or USCIS district where you will be applying for citizenship for at least 3 months.
- • You must prove continuous residence in the U.S. for the previous 5 years.
- • You must have been physically present in the U.S. for at least 30 months out of those five years.
- • Applicants must be able to speak, read, and write the English language at a basic level, and
- • Applicants must be able to demonstrate knowledge of U.S. history and government by taking a naturalization test.
- • Applicants must be of good moral character and support the beliefs and values expressed in the U.S. Constitution.
There are other exceptions to the residency requirements and other citizenship qualifications; an experienced immigration and naturalization lawyer can assess your case and provide personal advice or assistance with the application process.
The attorneys at Godoy Law Office work with you to evaluate your immigration status and guide you in your journey to becoming a US citizen. If you need help with an immigration issue, please contact our office online.