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My Spouse is a Citizen, Can I Become a Citizen?

My Spouse is a Citizen, Can I Become a Citizen?

Congratulations on getting married! While there are many benefits to marrying a U.S citizen, there is a common misconception that marriage can grant automatic American citizenship, and this is incorrect. Being married to an American citizen does not allow you to automatically become a US citizen. However, you do benefit from a shorter waiting period from getting your green card becoming a citizen.

Normally, after receiving your green card you have to wait five years before applying for citizenship. This is often referred to as the “five-year rule”. This means you have to be continuously living in the United States for five consecutive years.

When you are married to a U.S citizen this waiting period is shortened to only three years, known as the “three-year exception”. While you save two years of waiting there are a few carveouts to this. First, you must be living with your spouse for those three years in “marital union”. In addition, this means that you cannot get a divorce before those three years. If you stop living together or marriage breaks up, you must then wait the full five years. Once you have filed your application, the “living in martial union” is no longer required, yet you must remain married to your spouse until the applicant has become a naturalized citizen. Lastly, your spouse must remain a U.S citizen for the entire duration of the three years in order for you to qualify for the three-year exception.

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