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When Can I apply for Citizenship?

Dealing with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) can be daunting. USCIS is a large bureaucracy tasked with applying highly complex regulations. If you want to apply for U.S. citizenship, knowing when to start the process will get you off on the right foot. You should speak to an immigration lawyer before filing the application, so that you can determine if you are eligible to apply.  Issues that are considered are you good moral character, absences from the United States and the duration in which you were lawful permanent resident green card holder. Before you plunge into this process, schedule a consultation with the immigration Law Office of Ashkan Yekrangi to determine if you are eligible for naturalization

If you are married to a U.S. citizen, you must wait three years to apply for citizenship if you have been living with your spouse and have a "green card." You should be a permanent resident, as explained in the Immigration and Nationality Act Section 319(a) or 8 U.S.C. 1430(a). USCIS will require proof that you qualify when you apply. You must be able to show that you actually were living with your spouse. If you divorce your spouse before your interview, then you lose your eligibility to apply after three years. 

If you came to this country based on another visa, but not as a refugee, then you must wait five years to the day to apply for citizenship. Check your permanent residency card for the date you were granted permanent residency. You are allowed to submit your naturalization application 90 days before the fifth anniversary of obtaining permanent resident status. Essentially, the bureaucracy lets you get in line early so that the review of your application will start as soon as you are eligible for citizenship.

If you were granted asylum or refugee status, the first year as a refugee or asylee counts towards the five years.  In this scenario, you apply after four years of being a permanent resident. 

This is very general information. There are many exceptions to the general three/five year rule described here. If you are considering applying for citizenship, the Law Office of Ashkan Yekrangi is here to help. We understand this complex process and look forward to guiding you through it.