Apply for Citizenship through Marriage
Updated on 01/18/2021
Green card holders who have been married to a U.S. citizen are entitled to apply for U.S. citizenship earlier. This is a very significant benefit because normally immigrants can only apply for citizenship after 5 years of lawful permanent residence. Many green card holders who enjoy this benefit obtained their green card on the basis of marriage to a U.S. citizen. By getting informed about how to best prepare an application for citizenship through marriage, you can increase your chances of being approved and eventually naturalized.
1. Eligibility requirements of citizenship through marriage
You are eligible to apply for citizenship through marriage if you:
Not sure if you are eligible to apply for citizenship by marriage? You can free check eligibility through DYgreencard.com without providing any personal information. When you are ready, we can help you prepare a complete application package reviewed by a skilled immigration attorney. Learn more, or get started today.
2. Can I apply for citizenship based on 3-year marriage to a U.S. citizen if I obtained green card not through marriage?
Yes as long as you meet all the eligibility requirements listed above. As you may see, citizenship through marriage does not require applicants to gain their green card based on marriage. Therefore, no matter how you obtain your green card, you are qualified to apply for citizenship through marriage to a U.S. citizen if you meet all eligibility requirements listed above.
3. How to apply for citizenship through marriage?
In order to apply to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for citizenship, a green card holder must complete a Form N-400, Application for Naturalization. The filing fee for an application for citizenship is currently $640. Moreover, most applicants will need to pay $85 for biometrics services.
Evidence that should accompany a Form N-400 includes a copy of the green card (whether conditional or permanent) and a copy of the marriage certificate. The date on the marriage certificate will help to prove that the couple has been married for the requisite amount of time. In addition, evidence to prove the couple has been living in marital union for at least 3 years and the U.S. citizen spouse has been a U.S. citizen for at least 3 years are also required.
If, for some reason, the green card holder is living outside the United States, the N-400 package should include two U.S passport-style photographs. If the reason that they are living abroad is their U.S citizen spouse’s work, they should also provide official evidence of employment abroad. If the purpose of living abroad is for military reasons, an N-400 applicant may need to supply evidence from their branch of the armed forces.
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4. Can I submit citizenship application when my I-751 petition is pending?
Yes as long as you meet all the eligibility requirements listed above. Actually, it will take 12-18 months on average for USCIS to process an I-751 Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence. Many green card holders who obtained a green card based on a marriage to a U.S. citizen could become eligible for citizenship even if they don’t receive a permanent green card yet. When you file an N-400 form with USCIS, you should attach a copy of your I-751 receipt notice so that USCIS could process your citizenship application and I-751 petition at the same time.
For some conditional green card holders, due to USCIS’s suspicion to their marriage, their I-751 petitions could be pending with USCIS for a long time. If that the case, filing of N-400 naturalization application is a good strategy to push USCIS to adjudicate their I-751 petitions.
5. Spousal Citizenship Interview
Part of the application process for citizenship through marriage is an interview with the USCIS. The reason for the citizenship interview is so that a USCIS officer can verify the facts indicated on N-400 application form. If any parts of the N-400 form are unclear to the USCIS officer, the information can be clarified at the naturalization interview.
What happens at the citizenship interview?
An applicant for United States citizenship by marriage should also be prepared to demonstrate their English language abilities (English test), as well as their mastery of U.S. history and civics (Civic test). When attending the spousal citizenship interview, an N-400 applicant should be prepared to supply a variety of documents.
What to bring to your citizenship interview?
If you are attending an interview for naturalization, you should bring your green card, state-issued identification such as driver license, as well as all passports and travel documents (no matter valid or expired). Further, you should bring evidence of your valid marriage, any name change papers, and documents that show that prior marriages were terminated. You should also be prepared to show a birth or naturalization certificate or valid passport to prove your spouse’s U.S. citizenship.
Other documents that the USCIS lists that you probably need to provide at your citizenship interview include financial documents, such as jointly filed tax returns, joint bank statements, and other evidence of commingled money. Lease or mortgage paperwork, travel history, registration for selective service, and dependent and support documents also may be necessary. Learn more about what documents to bring to your citizenship interview in our article Documents to Bring to Your N-400 Citizenship Interview.
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