When Can I Apply for U.S. Citizenship?

Citizenship ApplicationIf you are a permanent resident of the U.S., you may be eligible for U.S. citizenship if you have lived in the U.S. for at least five years, under the basic naturalization rule. You must have completed five years in the U.S. as a legal permanent resident. If you were granted legal permanent resident status on November 7, 2014, you would likely become eligible for U.S. citizenship on November 7, 2019. You can check your permanent resident card for the exact date on which you were granted permanent resident status.

90-Day Early Application Rule

Legal Permanent Residents (LPR’s) are allowed to apply for citizenship 90 days before completing their permanent residence requirement. This means LPR’s can file their application exactly 90 days before the actual date of their five-year anniversary. Using the USCIS date calculator, they can find out the exact date on which they can file their application for citizenship.

Permanent Residents may apply for citizenship in the U.S. on Form N-400, Application for Naturalization. This is the form the USCIS requires eligible permanent residents to file to apply for citizenship.

USCIS will first review Form N-400, schedule a biometrics appointment, schedule the naturalization interview where the naturalization test is taken and then make a decision on the case. All of these steps may not be completed in three months. This is why the USCIS allows eligible Green Card holders to file their applications 90 days before the date on which they were granted their permanent resident status.

Exceptions to Five-Year Rule

If a permanent resident is married to a U.S. citizen and has been a permanent resident for the past three years, they do not have to wait to reach the five-year mark to apply for citizenship. A permanent resident married to a U.S. citizen can file an application in just three years. To qualify, an LPR must still be married to the same U.S. citizen and also provide proof of bona fide marriage along with their application. If the permanent resident divorces or separates from the U.S. citizen before the interview or the oath ceremony, they may no longer qualify to apply for citizenship in three years. This article details the process of applying for citizenship after three years.

If an LPR has spent five years or three years in the U.S. as a Green Card holder, they may be required to wait even longer to apply for citizenship if they don’t meet the physical presence requirement. An LPR must have lived in the U.S. for at least 30 months out of the five-year period to apply for citizenship. They will also have to meet the continuous residence requirement. If they’ve taken an abroad trip that lasted for more than six months, they may have to speak to an immigration attorney before filing their N-400 application.

An LPR must also have lived in the state from which they are applying for citizenship for the past three months. If an LPR has recently moved to a new district or state, they will have to wait to reach the three months to file their citizenship application.