There are two ways to become a US citizen. If you have a green card and are still married to the US citizen who applied for your green card, you qualify for US citizenship after having legal permanent residency for three years. Check the date on your card, where it says "Resident Since", and count three years from that date to know the earliest that you can apply.
If you have a green card and did not receive it through marriage, or if you are now divorced, you qualify for US citizenship after having legal permanent residency for five years. Check the date on your card, and count five years from the "Resident Since" date.
In addition to the timing requirements outlined above, there are other issues that could impact whether your case will be approved. Generally, you must also meet the following requirements:
You must have lived the majority of the time in the United States.
USCIS does not allow a permanent resident to have two "residences". If you lived outside the US for more than six months of any year during the past five years, you may not qualify for US citizenship. Most attorneys would recommend you wait until your time abroad is outside of the five-year window before applying for citizenship. However, if you urgently desire to receive citizenship as soon as possible, you can provide proof that you did not abandon your US residency. Generally, you must demonstrate that you maintained access to your US home, that you did not quit your job in the US or work abroad, that you continued to pay your US expenses and maintained a bank account in the US, and that your family members remained in the US while you were away.
You must not be on probation for any crime.
If you have been charged or convicted of any crime, no matter how small, your citizenship case will be denied if you are still on probation when you submit your application. All crimes must be concluded before applying.
You cannot have committed certain crimes.
Some crimes will permanently disqualify you for citizenship. You may be able to renew your legal permanent resident card, but will remain unable to apply for citizenship. It is very important that you obtain certified copies of all court records and police arrest records and bring them to an attorney before submitting an application for citizenship.
You must have filed all of your taxes.
Part of being a legal permanent resident is filing your taxes and paying taxes owed. If you owe taxes, you should be in good standing and enrolled in a payment plan with the IRS. You will be required to prove your tax status at the interview.
You must have reqistered for Selective Service.
If you are male and had a green card between the ages of 18 and 26, then you must have registered for selective service. You can obtain proof of your selective service registration by clicking here.
Note: These are general requirements for citizenship. There are dozens of factors that could disqualify you, and it is important you speak to an attorney before applying. To make an appointment with our firm, call (541) 780-6147, or click here to book an appointment online.
Below is an average of how long USCIS takes to process an application.
Application for Citizenship:
Application for immigrant visa (for spouse living abroad):
Application for Green Card for family member in the United States:
USCIS PROCESSING TIMES
CIVICS EXAM AND ENGLISH EXAM
When you attend your citizenship interview, you will be asked some civics questions and will also need to demonstrate that you can read, write and speak basic English.
The civics questions are available online in English and other languages. You can get started by viewing the formats available here: https://www.uscis.gov/citizenship/learners/study-test
Depending on your age and length of residency, you may qualify for a simplified test, or a test in your native language. Below are the age and residency guidelines:
You Are Exempt From The English Language Requirement, But Are Still Required To Take The Civics Test If You Are:
Age 50 or older at the time of filing for naturalization and have lived as a permanent resident (green card holder) in the United States for 20 years (commonly referred to as the “50/20” exception).OR
Age 55 or older at the time of filing for naturalization and have lived as a permanent resident in the United States for 15 years (commonly referred to as the “55/15” exception).
Even if you qualify for the “50/20” or “55/15” English language exceptions listed above, you must still take the civics test.
You will be permitted to take the civics test in your native language.
If you take the test in your native language, you must bring an interpreter with you to your interview.
Your interpreter must be fluent in both English and your native language.
If you are age 65 or older and have been a permanent resident for at least 20 years at the time of filing for naturalization, you will be given special consideration regarding the civics requirement.