Naturalization is the process of becoming a U.S. citizen as a permanent resident if you were born outside of the United States. Once certain requirements are met, as established by Congress in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), you are able to become or apply to become a U.S. citizen.
All green card holders can apply for U.S. citizenship after five years. Those with a U.S. spouse and a green card through marriage can apply after only three years.
Upon receiving a green card in the United States you are able to file Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, 90 calendar days before you complete your permanent residence requirement if your eligibility for naturalization is based upon being a:
- Permanent resident for at least 5 years; or
- Permanent resident for at least 3 years if you are married to a US citizen.
To determine the 90 day early filing date, you are able to click here and insert your 5-year or 3-year date as a permanent resident. The website will then give you a date as to which you may submit your Form N-400.
Naturalization After Receiving Green Card
Upon receiving your green card, it is important to find out when you are eligible to apply for naturalization. There are a few different requirements that one must meet in order to be able to apply. In general, these requirements include,
- Be 18 years old or older at the time of filing Form N-400, Application for Naturalization.
- Be a lawful permanent resident (have a “Green Card”).
- Demonstrate continuous permanent residence in the United States for at least 5 years. (In some cases, this may be 3 years if you are married to a U.S. citizen.)
- Show that you have been physically present in the United States for 30 months. (In some cases, this may be 18 months if you are married to a U.S. citizen.)
- Show that you have lived for at least 3 months in the state or USCIS district where you claim residence.
Things to Remember and Bring For Interview
English and History Abilities
- During your interview with USCIS, you will be tested on your ability to read, write, and speak English. You will also be tested on U.S. history and government information as well. It is important to study all of this information before your interview day.
Past Marriages and Name Changes
- If you had been previously married or had a name change, bring a copy of the court decree that shows the official change.
- If you have been arrested or detained by police, bring those documents with you to your interview. Not having this paperwork will delay your case.
Traveling Outside of U.S.
- If you have traveled outside of the U.S. in the last 5 years, bring the proper documentation to show that. You will need all valid and invalid passports along with any issued travel documents in your name as well.
Man Aged 18-26
- If you are a man between the ages of 18-26 you must be registered for the Selective Service. Proof will need to be shown that you have properly registered.
- On the day of your interview, bring certified tax returns for the last 5 years. 3 years if you are married to a U.S. citizen.
Copies of PR Card
- If you are a lawful permanent resident, you must submit photocopies of your Permanent Resident Card. You will also need to bring your Permanent Resident Card. In addition, you will need a state-issued identification such as a driver’s license.
Disability or Age-Based Wavier
- You may not need to take the English and civics portions of the naturalization test if you have a medical disability.
Signed Application and Fee
- Before submitting your application, everything will need to be reviewed and signed. The necessary fees also need to be paid before filing as well.
To find out more about citizenship and naturalization and what situation applies to you, click here.
At Schehr Law PLLC we offer free consultations and affordable payment plans. The immigration process can be long and stressful, it is important to reach out to an attorney who has experience in this area. Please do not hesitate to reach out for more information or if you have any questions at all.