When to Apply For U.S. Citizenship?

Let Us Help You With Your Naturalization Process

According to U.S. law, a conditional or permanent resident can apply for citizenship. However, it is only possible after the resident has legally lived in the United States for a minimum of five years. You begin to count the five years from the day you were approved as a permanent resident, not when you arrived in the United States.

For instance, if you became a permanent resident holder on September 1, 2015, you cannot apply for citizenship before September 1, 2020. You can refer to your green card to see the exact date you got approved as a permanent resident.

As a conditional resident, your two years count as a permanent residence, but on one condition. When the two years expire, you must be approved as a permanent resident. As you wait for the approval, you can file for naturalization. Hiring a lawyer for the naturalization process Los Angeles can smoothen the process.

You become a conditional resident when you acquire your residence through an investor's visa or a recent marriage. Before becoming a permanent resident, you have to prove you didn't get married to evade immigration.

After acquiring a green card, most people must wait for five years to apply for citizenship. However, there are some notable exceptions. Here are some exceptions that can reduce your waiting time.

The 90-Days Early Filing Rule

Instead of waiting for the five years to expire so that you can apply for citizenship, you can forward your naturalization application to the USCIS, ninety days before the D-day. Some people prefer hiring a lawyer for the naturalization process in Los Angeles.

The main reason behind it is timing. When you apply for naturalization, it will take USCIS almost three months or more to call you in for an interview. The interview aims to test your knowledge of the U.S. government and your mastery of English. After the interview, the USCIS will then decide whether to approve or deny your application.

You must submit your application via mail, using the N-400 form. It will take the USCIS a long time to process the N-400 form , take your fingerprints, and conduct the interview. It is why a Los Angeles citizenship lawyer recommends applying for naturalization three months earlier.

For People Married To a U.S. Citizen

When you get married to a U.S. citizen, you become a conditional resident. Instead of waiting for five years to apply for citizenship, you only wait for three. A Los Angeles citizenship lawyer will tell you that you first have to be approved as a permanent resident. You will also need to provide proof when submitting your application.

Individuals who didn't get their green card through the marriage, but through other means are still eligible for this exception. For instance, if you received your green through an employer, and soon after you marry a United States citizen, you will apply for citizenship three years from the day you got married.

However, it is a must that you remain married to your spouse past your approval and through the oath ceremony. At the oath ceremony is where they swear you in as a United States citizen.

You will not be eligible for this exception if you divorce, decide not to live together or if your spouse dies.

For Battered Spouses Who Have Been Granted VAWA Protection

Congress did not support the idea of immigrants staying in abusive marriages to enjoy the three-year exception. Therefore, Congress created an exception for people who received their green cards by marrying a U.S. citizen.

To benefit from this exception, you have to submit a self-petition on form I-360, which proves that you are emotionally or physically abused. A naturalization attorney Los Angeles, will offer guidance if need be.

For Refugees

Refugees can also apply for U.S. citizenship. They receive a partial exception to the five-year waiting period. If you acquire your green card based on being a refugee, your time as a refugee will be counted similar to that of a permanent resident.

If you acquired your refugee status in another country, the day you entered the United States is all that matters. For instance, if you have been a refugee for three years, you will remain a permanent resident for two years, after which you can apply for citizenship.

For People Who Have Been Granted Asylum

Some people receive their green cards based on receiving asylum in the U.S. The time you spend as an asylee is counted as if you were a permanent resident in the United States.

It is advisable to apply for your green card immediately after receiving asylum. If you wait longer, let's say one year, that extra year will not be considered. Therefore, you will have to wait another four years from the day you receive your green card to apply for U.S citizenship.

Here is where it gets confusing, you will wait five years from the date indicated in your green card. The reason behind it is that USCIS automatically backdated the approval date by one year. A naturalization attorney Los Angeles, can guide you through the above process and clarify where you do not understand.

For Spouses of U.S Citizens Working Overseas

You will be exempted from the five-year rule if your spouse secures an overseas job that requires the two of you to relocate.

When you return to the United States, you can apply for citizenship at any given time as long as you are an approved permanent resident.

However, only a selected group of people can leverage this exception. For instance, your partner must be employed by the U.S. government, a U.S. research institute, a U.S. corporation, or a religious denomination. Additionally, you must be ready to return to the United States once your spouse's contract ends. To know if you qualify, seek legal immigration help Los Angeles from renowned lawyers.

Some instances will prompt you to wait longer before applying for citizenship, even after your five years have elapsed. They include:

  • If you spend more than a year overseas
  • If you do not have good moral character

When looking for legal immigration help Los Angeles, contact the law office of Amira Al Alami. They handle all immigration cases, including deportation, citizenship, immigration, green cards, visas, and tourism. Contact our immigration lawyer in Los Angeles today!

Related Blog

  • Trump administration tries to push last-minute immigration limits

    Trump administration tries to push last-minute immigration limits

    Since the beginning of his first presidency, Trump has pushed strict ideas about immigration into the United States. With a change in power shortly approaching, the Trump Administration is trying to expedite last-minute policy alterations that would continue to limit immigration into the country. Legal immigration help Los Angeles has specifically noticed that many of … Continue reading "Trump administration tries to push last-minute immigration limits"Read More »
  • The Day that America Lost $100 Billion Because of an Immigration Visa Ban

    The Day that America Lost $100 Billion Because of an Immigration Visa Ban

    Through an executive order issued on June 22, 2020, President Trump restricted the entry of individuals with a nonimmigrant work visa. This was said to be in response to the Covid-19 pandemic to keep Americans safe. The executive order, which is set to last until December 31, 2020, has taken a toll on the U.S. … Continue reading "The Day that America Lost $100 Billion Because of an Immigration Visa Ban"Read More »
  • The “Trump Effect” on Immigration

    The “Trump Effect” on Immigration

    In the years from 2010 to 2017, legal and illegal immigrants arrived in the United States at a rate of 650,000 per year. When Donald Trump took office in 2016, this rate decreased to 200,000 per year. People attribute this slowdown to the policies that the Trump Administration approved throughout the years. These facts are … Continue reading "The “Trump Effect” on Immigration"Read More »