From Green Card to U.S. Citizenship: The Naturalization Process
Have you recently obtained your permanent residency? Congratulations! With your green card in tow, you will be able to live and work permanently in the United States, sponsor relatives to help them attain permanent residence, and eventually apply for citizenship.
You may already be anticipating the final step to your U.S. immigration journey- becoming a U.S. citizen. If you’re wondering about the requirements to the citizenship process, referred to as naturalization, we’ve got you covered. Our expert immigration attorneys at the Milovic Law Firm are here to guide you through every step of the U.S. naturalization process. Stay tuned to learn how to obtain your U.S. citizenship after your green card.
How a Green Card Holder Qualifies for U.S. Citizenship
- Be at least 18 years old when you submit Form N-400, Application for Naturalization;
- Have been a lawfully admitted permanent resident of the United States for at least. five years;
- Demonstrate continuous residence in the United States for at least five years;
- Have been physically present in the United States for at least 30 months out of the five years immediately before filing for citizenship;
- Have lived for at least three months in a state or USCIS district having jurisdiction over your place of residence. (If you are a student and are financially dependent on your parents, you may apply for naturalization where you attend school or where your family lives.);
- A a person of good moral character and have been a person of good moral character for at least five years immediately before the date you file for naturalization;
- Demonstrate an attachment to the principles and ideals of the U.S. Constitution;
- Be able to read, write and speak basic English;
- Have knowledge and understanding of the fundamentals of the history, and of the principles and form of government, of the United States, (civics); and
- Certain exceptions may apply to persons over the age of 50
- Take an Oath of Allegiance to the United States.
Exceptions to the 5-year Residency Requirement
While most permanent residents must wait five years before they are eligible to apply for naturalization, some individuals may be eligible to apply sooner. The exceptions are mainly reserved for spouses of U.S citizens or military service members. Some of the exceptions to the general naturalization requirements are as follows:
- Spouses of U.S. citizens may be eligible to apply for naturalization three years after being admitted as lawful permanent residents, rather than the five years prescribed under the general provisions;
- Spouses of U.S. citizens stationed abroad may not be required to meet general residence or physical presence requirements;
- Members of the military who served honorably during certain periods of conflict may be eligible for naturalization even though they have not been admitted as lawful permanent residents and even if they are under the age of 18; or
- Members of the military who served honorably for at least one year, at any time, and apply for naturalization within a certain time after their military service, are also exempt from the general residence and physical presence requirements
Completing the U.S. Citizenship Process
Wondering how to get U.S. citizenship after a green card? While the process is fairly straightforward, it can be confusing for those who face roadblocks or are not familiar with the USCIS forms.
As long as you meet the USCIS eligibility requirements, you should receive your naturalization certificate with flying colors. Completing the naturalization process consists of the following steps:
- Prepare your Form N-400. This is your application for naturalization. It is available online, though we recommend hiring an immigration attorney to help you complete it.
- Submit your Form N-400, filing fee and supporting documents. Be sure to review the instructions and sign the form. It is important to include supporting documents to prove that you meet the eligibility requirements. Typically, it may take around 10-14 months to process your application.
- Go to your biometrics appointment. If applicable, the USCIS will send you a biometrics appointment notice. This step is not required for every applicant.
- Complete the interview. The next step in the naturalization process is to complete the naturalization interview. While there are plenty of resources out there, the best way to ensure success is to work with a skilled immigration attorney.
- Receive your decision. The final decision will be mailed to you. Your citizenship will either be granted, continued (additional information is needed), or denied.
- Take the Oath of Allegiance to the U.S. After having been granted citizenship, you will receive a notice to take the Oath of Allegiance to the U.S. Technically, you are not a U.S. citizen until doing this.
Top Immigration Lawyers in Phoenix, AZ
The best way to ensure that your U.S. citizenship is granted is to work alongside a skilled immigration attorney. Lucky for you, our team here at the Milovic Law Firm is well-versed in immigration law, passionate about the immigration journey of our clients, and dedicated to helping you achieve your American dream.
Contact us today for a free consultation. We can’t wait to work with you.