How Long After You Get a Green Card Can You Apply for Citizenship?
This is a common question that immigration lawyers in Orange County hear from permanent residents – how long until you can apply for U.S. citizenship? While there is a general timeline set out by law, like so many other immigration matters, there are also many exceptions to the general rule. Read on
General Standard is Five YearsFor most permanent residents, you must live in the U.S. with a green card for at least five years before you qualify for possible citizenship. If you were a conditional resident, the two years of conditional status count toward your five years, as long as you successfully obtained permanent residency after the two years ended.
Note that you can submit your citizenship application during the 90 days prior to your five-year anniversary with a green card. This is to allow for processing time with USCIS, so you can get your interview and the process underway as soon as possible after five years have passed.
Possible ExceptionsThere are cases in which a different time period may apply for green card holders to qualify for citizenship, including:
If you are married to a U.S. citizen, you can apply three years from the marriage date (provided you had conditional residency or a green card)
Battered spouses can also use the three-year rule even if they ended their marriage to the U.S. citizen due to abuse
Years lived as a refugee prior to receiving a green card may count toward the five year-requirement
One year lived as an asylee may count towards the five-year requirement
If your spouse is a U.S. citizen that must work overseas, you may have a shorter time period as long as you meet certain criteria
It is important to note that some factors may extend the amount of waiting time, which an experienced Orange County immigration attorney can determine.