Marrying a U.S. citizen can give you eligibility for a green card if you are from another country. Once you have that green card, you can take the next step to becoming a U.S. citizen.
You are also able to apply for citizenship sooner if you have a marriage-based green card, as opposed to having a green card for another reason. Green card holders have to wait five years before starting the naturalization process — but, if you’re married to a U.S. citizen, the waiting period is only three years. You must still be married when you apply for citizenship and when the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) approve you. If you are not living with your spouse, USCIS may think your marriage is a sham, jeopardizing approval.
Some important rules for obtaining citizenship are:
- You continuously live at a valid U.S. address for a three-year period.
- You live with your spouse the entire time.
- If you travel outside of the United States during the three years, it’s best to do so with spouse.
Once you meet these requirements, you are eligible to file Form N-400 with USCIS to request U.S. citizenship. This application process involves showing other documents that prove your identity, as well as a marriage certificate, a spouse’s birth certificate or naturalization papers showing citizenship for at least three years, joint tax returns, joint leases or mortgages or other documents.
Once you submit your application and the necessary documents to prove your marriage is real, you will be called for an interview at a USCIS location. You will also be fingerprinted at this time. The interview tests your knowledge of American history and government. Once approved, you become a U.S. citizen.
An experienced immigration lawyer from our firm can help you navigate this complex process. We have helped many clients successfully obtain green cards and becomes United States citizens.