Permanent residents need to meet a variety of requirements to file applications for US citizenship. Applicants need to establish that they have been living in the United States as lawful residents for a five year period. This applies to the ones who file applications for US citizenship under the general naturalization provision while the ones who received their Green Cards based on marriage to US citizens, just need to establish that they have been living in the United States as lawful residents for a three year period, at the time of applying for naturalization.
Under the general naturalization provision, a Green Card holder can file Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, around 90 days prior to the fifth anniversary of his/her Green Card. This also applies to the permanent residents married to US citizens and who have been living in the United States as permanent residents for three years. They can file applications for US citizenship 90 days before the third anniversary of their permanent resident cards. However, they must meet all the other requirements including the continuous residence requirement.
USCIS calculates the early filing period by subtracting 90 days from the applicant’s 3rd/5th year Green Card anniversary. For example, if an applicant would meet the five year continuous residence requirement on January 22, 2014, the earliest date that applicant can file for US citizenship would be October 24, 2013.
This applies only to the ones applying under the Sections 319(a) and 316(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. Permanent residents who have lived abroad for more than a year within the five year period, cannot apply 90 days before the 5 year anniversary. They need to wait for 4 years and 1 day, after re-entering the United States, to file Form N-400.
It must be remembered that the naturalization applications filed too early will not be considered by the USCIS. Applicants need to file their citizenship applications at the right time. If they believe that they are eligible for citizenship status in America, they first need to make sure that they meet all the requirements. They can then check the USCIS early filing calculator and this will help them to file their applications at the right time.