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Should it take 3 years or 5 years for me to become eligible to be a US citizen?

Bronx, NY |

I have recently got my immigrant visa through my permanent resident wife and hence have made my travel plan to enter into & start staying in US in March 2013. As I know, to become eligible for naturalization, for a green card holder it takes 3 yrs if spouse is already a US citizen whereas 5 yrs if spouse is a green card holder. My wife is going to be eligible to get US citizenship in September 2013 after her 5 yrs completion as a PR. In this case, how long should I wait to apply for citizenship - 3.5 yrs ( till September 2016 as my wife is expected to be citizen in September 2013) OR the whole 5 yrs (till March 2018)? If still should it take 5 yrs for me in such case, then I will shift my travel date from March to September 2013. Asking for your advice please.

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Attorney answers 5


You can apply three years from from the date on which your wife completes her oath ceremony and is made a citizen or five years from the date on which you became a permanent resident which ever is the earliest. If coming on a an immigrant visa after consular process rather than adjusting status in the U.S your permanent residence will not be registered until you enter the U.S. Additionally, you can file your application for citizenship 90 days before the 3/5year date. Please note that you need to maintain residence for the entire duration and need to be physically present for at least half of the 3/5years. Your residence would be presumed to be abandoned if you leave the U.S for longer than 6 months unless you are able to show otherwise . An absence of more that one year will break residence and even if you have a retry permit the majority of the time spent before your return cannot be used to calculate the 3/5 years. You may be permitted to use 364 days spent outside before your return if you return within 2years. Frequent trips of a duration less that 6 months can also raise questions of an intention to abandon residence, as will actions like taking a job abroad. There are exceptions to these rules and ways to preserve time spent abroad using form N-470 for some select people. If you plan to spent significant time abroad please consult with a competent Immigration attorney.

Carl Michael Shusterman

Carl Michael Shusterman


Good answer


I agree with my colleague. Choose the date that allows you to reach your goal the earliest. It appears from your calculation that applying as spouse of USC will achieve your purpose the soonest.

Law Offices of J Thomas Smith J.D., Ph.D 11500 Northwest Freeway, Suite 280 Houston, TX 77092 713-LAWYER-2


Prior counsel are both correct.


I agree with my colleagues. Good luck to you.

Dean P. Murray
The Murray Law Firm
560 Sylvan Avenue
Englewood Cliffs, NJ 07632
T: (201)875-2600
F: (201)549-8700

Mr. Murray's response is NOT legal advice and does NOT create an attorney-client relationship. You should NOT rely on this response. Mr. Murray's response was generated without conducting a full inquiry as would occur during a face to face attorney-client consultation. It is likely that the response above may be made less accurate, or become entirely inaccurate, as you, i.e. the questioner, disclose additional facts that should only be discussed during a private consultation with an attorney. I strongly recommend that you consult an attorney who is licensed to practice law in your state (or, in the case of immigration law, and attorney in ANY state), whereupon all relevant facts will be discussed. All responses posted by Mr. Murray on are intended as general information for the education of the public, and not for any specific individual.


I agree with my colleagues. You should consult an experienced immigration attorney for this matter. You may schedule a consultation with an immigration lawyer in your area, my firm is handling these matters in New York. If you would like free legal updates on these immigration issues you may sign up for our newsletter at .

Att. number 917-885-2261 This advice does not create an attorney client relationship. No specific legal advice may be offered by the lawyer until a conflicts check is undertaken. Information sent through a web form or via email may not be treated as confidential. Please accept my apologies for spelling mistakes. Law Office of Alena Shautsova

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