How Soon Can I Gain Citizenship, By Marriage To A U.S. Citizen?

How Soon Can I Gain Citizenship, By Marriage To A U.S. Citizen

Many individuals who obtain their permanent resident status (green card) when they marry a U.S. citizen wonder how long they will have to wait before they can seek U.S. citizenship for themselves. There are a number of benefits to obtaining citizenship, including the right to vote in U.S. elections, to take government jobs, to obtain a U.S. passport, and to remove the worry of deportation. If you have obtained a marriage green card, you will need to wait at least three years to file for citizenship. An experienced immigration attorney can help you understand this important procedure.

Eligibility for Citizenship By Marriage To A U.S. Citizen

In order to be eligible to file your Form N-400, Application for Naturalization after you marry a citizen, you must meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • Be at least 18 years old.
  • Be lawfully permitted to stay in the country as a permanent resident for at least three years before applying.
  • Have lived with your spouse in a marital union for at least three years immediately before the application is filed and throughout the filing process.
  • Have lived at least three months in a state or U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services jurisdiction.
  • Have continuous residence in the U.S. as a lawful permanent resident for at least three years.
  • Be physically present for at least 18 months of the three years immediately preceding the application.
  • Be able to read, write, and speak English and understand the fundamentals of U.S. history and government.
  • Be a person of good moral character and well-disposed to the good order and happiness of the U.S. for at least three years.

Other Requirements for Obtaining Citizenship After Marriage

In order to obtain your citizenship after three years of living in a marital union with a U.S. citizen, you must meet the eligibility requirements listed above. However, there are a number of other requirements that prospective citizens are expected to adhere to, including:

  • You must not attempt to register to vote or claim to be a U.S. citizen on any official paperwork before your naturalization is finalized.
  • You must submit federal tax returns for the preceding three years when you apply for naturalization. Failure to pay your taxes can result in a delay in the process, as your application will not be considered without the submission of returns.
  • If you are male and between the ages of 18-26, you must register with the U.S. Selective Service. Proof of this registration is required for naturalization approval.
  • Remember that Green Card holders can still be deported if they commit certain crimes in the U.S. You will not be safe from deportation until you have obtained U.S. citizenship.

How to Obtain Citizenship if You Marry a U.S. Citizen

If you meet the eligibility criteria listed above, you can become a U.S. citizen through the following steps:

  • Prepare your N-400 form. This is the application for naturalization. The form is available online from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) online, and can also be filed online.
  • Submit your N-400 and related filing fees. The fees associated with filing the N-400 include $640 to process your application plus $85 for biometrics services.
  • Go to your biometrics appointment as scheduled by the USCIS.
  • Once the preliminary processes of your application are complete, the USCIS will schedule an interview, and you must report for this interview at the time, date, and USCIS office location where it is scheduled.
  • Once the N-400 process is complete, USCIS will notify you of their decision about your citizenship. They can list your application as Granted if you are eligible for naturalization, Continued if they need additional information from you to consider your application, or Denied if they determine that you are not eligible for naturalization.
  • Once you are determined to be eligible for naturalization, USCIS will inform you of a naturalization ceremony that you can participate in. At this ceremony, you will turn in your Green Card, take the Oath of Allegiance for your citizenship, and will receive your certificate of naturalization.

The Rights and Responsibilities of Being a U.S. Citizen

It is important to understand that through naturalization, you will become a U.S. citizen, conveyed with all the rights and responsibilities possessed by other citizens, including the responsibility to support and defend the U.S. Constitution, to participate in the democratic process, and to respect and obey all federal, state, and local laws. You also have the freedom to respect yourself, to obtain a fair trial, vote in elections, and even run for a public office if you wish.

We Can Help You With the Naturalization Process

If you are planning to become a U.S. citizen after marrying one, our experienced legal team can help you understand the naturalization process and the type of evidence you will need to show in order to pass the USCIS N-400 review. Contact us for your free case evaluation.