U.S. Citizenship After Green Card: A Lawyer Explains
Obtaining U.S. citizenship after green card can be overwhelming. Get the facts from a lawyer who specializes in U.S. immigration law.
Green Card vs. Citizenship: What’s Better?
Suppose you are a lawful permanent resident or have a conditional resident permit in the United States which means you have a green card. In that case, applying to become a U.S. citizen is critical as soon as possible.
After all United States, citizenship provides a range of benefits such as:
- Being able to help your relatives born abroad to immigrate to the U.S.
- Ability to live abroad without losing your U.S. residency
- Having the right to vote in all American state, local, and federal elections
- Freedom from deportation
Still, it is not always possible to become a U.S. citizen immediately after getting lawful permanent resident status. You will typically need to wait a few years before you are eligible to apply for citizenship.
Given the complexities of immigration, it is essential to work with a reputable immigration law firm before starting the quest for U.S. citizenship. By working with the law office of Michael G. Murray P.A., you will get access to a naturalization & citizenship lawyer with the skill and experience earned from years working in immigration.
Michael G. Murray P.A. will help you understand all the complexities of applying for and obtaining U.S. citizenship after green card status and ensure you are prepared to go through the process. From helping you file the necessary forms to preparing you for the naturalization interview, Michael G. Murray P.A.’s legal experts will be there with you every step.
U.S. Citizenship Requirements for Green Card Holders
In addition to being required to have lived in the United States for at least five years after getting a green card, you will also need to qualify for eligibility for U.S. citizenship by meeting the requirements below.
- You must be at least 18 years old.
- You must not have taken any trips longer than six months outside the United States during the five-year continuous residence period.
- You must have had a continuous residence of at least three months in the state or USCIS district in which you are applying to become a citizen.
- You must be of good moral character. This means that you have not been charged with serious crimes, including intentionally lying to Homeland Security or another government agency to obtain immigration benefits, illegal gambling, or not filing income tax returns.
- You must pass a two-part naturalization test that includes an English test and a civics test demonstrating your knowledge of U.S. history and the government.
- You are willing to perform mandatory military or civilian service if the United States calls upon you to do the same.
- You have loyalty and willingness to defend the U.S. constitution.
- Taking the oath of allegiance.
Contact us today for an initial consultation with a talented and skilled immigration lawyer in Austin, Texas.
How to Get U.S. Citizenship After Green Card
Immigrants from across the globe dream of living in the United States and achieving the American dream. Obtaining permanent residence has been the most popular starting point for years.
Still, there are several ways of obtaining American permanent residence and citizenship. These include obtaining citizenship through active duty in the armed forces, your citizen parent, your recent marriage to a U.S. citizen, and naturalization.
Regardless of which route you choose, it is essential to have a reliable legal team that can guide you through the process. Our team of immigration lawyers in Austin, Texas, will provide you with the legal guidance and resources required to efficiently obtain your U.S. citizenship.
We can help you understand the requirements, ensure that your application is filled out correctly, and provide representation in any immigration court proceedings.
Applying for Citizenship After Green Card
Under the immigration law and the Immigration and Nationality Act of the United States, there are several steps to the naturalization process that lawful permanent residents must follow to become citizens. The steps are:
1. Naturalization Application
Permanent residents needing to change their immigration status and become U.S. citizens must file Form N-400, an application for naturalization. You can file the Form N-400 application online or mail it to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
2. Biometrics Appointment
The next step is to set up a biometric appointment. The interview usually includes taking fingerprints and other biometric data from the USCIS. Homeland Security and other agencies use biometric data to perform background checks.
The biometrics appointment is usually about a month after the USCIS receives your application.
3. Citizenship Interview and Exam
After filing your application, the interview will be set for a little over a year. Depending on how long the USCIS field office takes to process your application, you will have to wait.
The USCIS field office usually works with Homeland Security to verify the information and supporting documents you provided. If you are in the armed forces serving abroad, the interview will typically be conducted at a U.S. consulate, embassy, or military facility.
During your citizenship interview, you will have to take the English and civics tests as part of the naturalization process.
If you pass the exam and the interview, the immigration official will approve your application to become a U.S. citizen. In other instances, they may request additional documentation or set a date for a second interview.
If you fail the interview and exam, you will receive a denial letter explaining why. Still, you get 30 days to appeal the decision and reapply.
4. Oath of Allegiance
Once your application gets the approval of the USCIS officer, all that needs to happen is to attend the oath of allegiance ceremony, after which you will become a U.S. citizen.
The USCIS usually sends a notice to applicants following the interview, informing them of the oath of allegiance ceremony’s location, date, and time.
Once the ceremony is done and you have returned your permanent resident card, you will be presented with your Certificate of Naturalization.
How Many Years Does It Take To Become a U.S. Citizen?
There are several routes to becoming a citizen, which means the times to citizenship vary. However, most permanent resident and conditional resident cardholders have similar citizenship timelines.
Green card holders with no special circumstances can only apply for U.S. citizenship at least five years after obtaining a green card. Out of those five years, an applicant must have physically lived in the U.S. for at least 30 months (two-and-a-half years) or at least one and half years for a green card holder married to a U.S. citizen.
However, several people with special circumstances can apply for green cards before five years. They include the following:
- Widows or widowers of U.S. citizens who died honorably serving in the armed forces can apply without waiting. No wait period requirement applies to them.
- Any member of the U.S. military, with or without a green card during wartime service, can apply for U.S. citizenship anytime.
- A green card holder with at least 1 year of peacetime military service can apply for citizenship while on active duty or within six months of being honorably discharged from the military.
- After three years of marriage, green card holders married to U.S. citizens can apply for citizenship.
You can take multiple trips outside the U.S. while waiting out the years requirement, but you consider the continuous residence requirements, which are critical in satisfying the physical presence requirement.
Also, if you are serving in the armed forces, you do not have to have lived in the United States. You are not required to be physically present in the U.S., given the nature of the work of the military.
Hiring an Immigration Attorney for Us Citizenship Applications
The requirements, timelines, and application process for getting U.S. citizenship can be complex. It is critical to work with a skilled immigration attorney when you apply for U.S. citizenship.
The law firm of Michael G. Murray P.A. has an experienced visa lawyer who knows all the ins and outs of immigration law and procedure. Contact us today for help processing your application or information on how to proceed. We may be able to help.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does a Green Card Grant You Citizenship?
A permanent resident card offers several benefits, primarily since it allows one to work and live permanently in the United States. Becoming a U.S. citizen is possible after meeting specific naturalization eligibility requirements.
Lawful permanent residents can apply to become U.S. citizens after three years of marriage. U.S. citizen. If they aren’t married to U.S. citizens, foreign nationals usually have to wait for at least five years to make their naturalization applications.
Can I Stay on Green Card Forever?
Lawful permanent residents can stay on a green card indefinitely as long as they remain eligible for renewal. However, remaining a permanent resident means missing out on the many benefits of citizenship. Also, you can lose eligibility to renew lawful permanent residence at any time.
Can a Green Card Holder Apply for Citizenship After 3 Years?
Yes, green card holders married to U.S. citizens can apply for citizenship after three years of marriage. Normally, applicants must wait at least five years before becoming eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship, but the three-year exception applies only to spouses of citizens.
Can I Stay on Green Card Forever?
Lawful permanent residents can stay on a green card indefinitely as long as they remain eligible for renewal and meet the permanent residence requirement. However, remaining a permanent resident means missing out on the many benefits of citizenship.
Also, you can lose eligibility to renew lawful permanent residence at any time. If that happens, you must apply for a new green card or risk losing your status.
How Long Does It Take To Get U.S. Citizenship?
Applying for U.S. citizenship can take anywhere from 6 months to more than a year. The amount of time it takes depends on the type of application, your circumstances, and the processing time for USCIS. Hiring an experienced immigration attorney can help expedite the process.