You May Qualify for Naturalization if:
- You have been a permanent resident for at least 5 years and meet all other eligibility requirements.
- You have been a permanent resident for 3 years or more and meet all eligibility requirements to file as a spouse of a U.S. citizen.
- You have qualifying service in the U.S. armed forces and meet all other eligibility requirements. See the “Information for Members of the Military and Their Families” link to the right.
- Your child may qualify for naturalization if you are a U.S. citizen, the child was born outside the U.S., the child is currently residing outside the U.S., and all other eligibility requirements are met.
General Path to Naturalization
Normally, you can apply for US Citizenship if you have been a Lawful Permanent Resident (a Green Card holder) for 5 years or more, you can pass the English and US history tests, you are a person of “Good Moral Character”, and you are willing to take the oath of citizenship.
Naturalization for Spouse of U.S. Citizens
The alien spouse of a U.S. citizen is issued a ‘conditional’ green card for a period of two years. At the end of this period, for the conditions to be removed, the marriage must still be ‘alive’. The couple must show that they have been living together in the same place, share their financial assets, travel together and if possible, have had children. These conditions have been placed to avoid ‘fraud’ or ‘sham’ marriages, where people enter into a convenience marriage only for the much desired green card.
Removal of the above condition, must be applied for by filing Form I-751 within a 90 day period before expiration of the two years. The Immigration and Naturalization Service may sometimes take two years or more to approve the I-751. However, after being resident in the U.S. for 3 years, the spouse of a U.S. citizen is eligible to apply for naturalization. He/she may put in his/her papers for naturalization two years nine months after receiving his/her lawful permanent status. The INS advises that it is permissible for a conditional resident to apply for naturalization while the I-751 application is still pending with the INS. However, it is likely that the INS will keep the naturalization application pending until the conditions are removed. Conditional resident spouses can therefore apply for citizenship in a timely manner, and hopefully have their I-751 applications approved before the citizenship interview.
CITIZENSHIP THROUGH MILITARY SERVICE
On November 22, 1994, President Clinton signed an executive order granting expedited naturalization to aliens and legal permanent residents who served in active-duty status in the armed Forces of the U.S. during the Persian Gulf Conflict (August 2, 1990 to April 11, 1991). For these veterans, it is not necessary for them to obtain permanent residence status prior to applying for citizenship. (This has been done in the past with regard to World Wars I and II, Korean and Vietnam Wars and the Grenada Conflict.)
This order became effective on the date it was issued and has no expiration date. However, the person must be in the U.S. in order to apply for naturalization and must also satisfy other requirements such as good moral character, loyalty to the U.S., knowledge of English and U.S. history and government.
What are the benefits of United States Citizenship?
There are many benefits of US Citizenship. Here are some of the most important:
SECURITY: Protect your family, your property, and your assets. You can not be deported if you are a US Citizen. You can be deported if you have only a Green Card, even if you have lived in the United States for many years.
When you leave the country, you can not be denied re-entry into the US if you are a US Citizen. You can be denied re-entry if you travel with only a Green Card.
TRAVEL: You can travel using a US Passport. You can visit most countries without a visa. This saves time and money. Plus, if you need assistance while traveling abroad, you can get help from the United States embassy.
EMPLOYMENT: There are many jobs you can not qualify for unless you are a US Citizen. Many federal, state, and local government jobs require that you be a US Citizen. Also, many jobs in private business now require US Citizenship.
FAMILY: You can bring your family members to the United States more quickly if you are a US Citizen. You can file to bring your husband or wife, fiance, children, parents, and sisters and brothers to the United States if you are a US Citizen.
VOTE: You can vote in elections if you are a US Citizen.
GOVERNMENT BENEFITS: You may be eligible for government benefits, such as social security, once you are a US Citizen.
NOTE: Immigration law changes frequently. The resources and information provided on this web site are intended to help you understand basic issues involved in the immigration process, and are offered only for general informational and educational purposes. This information is not offered as, nor does it constitute legal advice or legal opinions. Although we strive to keep this information current, we neither promise nor guarantee that the information is the latest available, or that it applies to your specific situation. You should not act or rely upon the information in these pages without seeking the advice of an attorney.