How the Permanent Residency Rule Works When Applying for Naturalization

You want to become a U.S. citizen, but you’re learning that there are a few different ways to go about it. By determining what situation you’re in and how it works when applying for naturalization, you can start the process sooner rather than later. If you’re prepared, your application for citizenship is more likely to go through.

Here’s some information on how permanent residency works when you’re applying for naturalization.

What Does Permanent Residency Mean?

Permanent residency is the most common path to U.S. citizenship. A permanent resident card is also known colloquially as a green card. With it, you can live and work permanently in the United States. Some won’t have expiration dates, but most of them only last up to 10 years. If you’ve been given conditional permanent resident status, then it will only last two years.

While you may be able to keep renewing it every ten years or so, at a certain point, you might want to become a citizen instead. That’s when you’ll have to apply for citizenship.

Applying for Citizenship

Applying for citizenship, or naturalization, should be done 90 calendar days before you complete your permanent residency requirement, but only if you’ve been a permanent resident for at least five years or you’ve been a permanent resident for at least three years and you’re married to a U.S. citizen.

If you are eligible, then you can complete Form N-400, Application for Naturalization. You can use the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services tool to figure out the anniversary date of your permanent residency and then apply when the time comes.

Note: You must be at least 18 years old when you apply, demonstrate continuous residency in the U.S. for the five years you were a permanent resident, and demonstrate that you’ve been physically present in the U.S. for at least 30 months out of the five years you were a resident. You’ll also need to take an oath of allegiance to the U.S., take a civics and English test, and show that you are of good moral character.

Another thing to keep in mind is that you may have to give up citizenship of your former country if it does not allow you to be a dual citizen.

Marriage to a U.S. Citizen

Keep in mind that you cannot marry someone falsely in order to get a green card and, ultimately, citizenship. Representatives from the USCIS are going to interview you and your spouse to see if your marriage is legitimate. They will ask you questions like:

  • Who introduced you to each other?
  • Where do you go when you go on dates?
  • What was your wedding like?
  • Did you live together before you were married?
  • What do you do together on a day-to-day basis?

They are going to question you about the timeline of your relationship, your wedding day, and what your life looks like now, essentially, so you’ll need to be prepared going in for the interview.

Getting Help From an Attorney

The citizenship process can be hard to understand. But with the help of an immigration attorney, you can go through the process much more smoothly. Look for an immigration attorney with years of experience and the results to support their excellent work.

Contact a Florida Immigration Attorney

Do you have questions about becoming a U.S. citizen through permanent residency? Then contact U.S. Immigration Law Counsel through our website or by calling 1-800-666-4996. We deal with the government so you don’t have to. We look forward to assisting you.