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How long do I Have to Wait to Apply for U.S. Citizenship?

Many people dream of one thing when they come to the U.S. becoming a US citizen. While this is not possible for all, there are countless immigrants that make the transition once they have met the citizenship requirements. If you have a green card, or permanent residence, you may be eligible to become a citizen after a certain amount of time. You will also have to meet certain character requirements and standards to be approved.

So what are the specific requirements? The basic rule is that any individual who is a permanent resident must have resided in the U.S. for at least five consecutive years to be eligible. Just being eligible does not automatically confer citizenship. You will still have to apply, take and pass certain tests, and go through the interview process. This means that it is very helpful to prepare and practice ahead of time to ensure that a small test question doesn't prevent you from becoming a citizen.

What are the other time requirements?

When you get within 90 days of the five year mark, you can submit your application. The INA allows applications to come in no sooner than 90 days prior to the five year anniversary. An individual should make sure they do not apply prior to the 90 day mark.

While the five year mark is the basic rule, you will also have to meet the following:

  • Spent the required amount of time in the U.S., (at least half)
  • Have not spent more than a year outside of the U.S.
  • Resided in the CIS district you are applying in for at least 90 days prior to filing

You must also demonstrate that you have good moral character during this time.

There are a few exceptions to the five year rule. Those who are married and have a green card may be able to apply for citizenship within three years.

Ready to apply for U.S. Citizenship? Our North Carolina immigration attorneys can help with your case.

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