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American Dream®: How Long Does It Take To Be Eligible for Citizenship After Gaining Permanent Residence?

In most cases, a permanent resident with a green card has to wait three to five years to apply for citizenship. However, different factors could affect your eligibility requirements. If you have your permanent resident card and want to know how long you have to wait to apply for citizenship after gaining permanent residence, learn more in the paragraphs below.

Eligibility To Apply for Citizenship

To apply for citizenship through naturalization, the applicant must:

  • Be 18 years of age or older (unless waived for military service)
  • Be a lawful permanent resident for at least three years in specific circumstances, or at least five years
  • Have physically lived in the U.S. continuously for five years and in the state where they will apply for at least three months
  • Prove good moral character
  • Understand and speak basic English to pass the naturalization test
  • Know U.S. history and government to pass the naturalization test
  • Swear allegiance to the U.S. and her interests

Your immigration attorney can help you understand what eligibility requirements you still need to fulfill before submitting your naturalization application.

Completing Your Naturalization Application

You must file Form N-400 with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) office. You can submit a paper application or file online. If filing using a paper application, write darkly in black ink, as the USCIS will scan paper applications to attach to your case file. You must also submit supporting documentation, appropriate fees, and additional forms.

When the USCIS receives an application, they will schedule approved applicants for a biometric appointment for fingerprinting and other identification information. After the biometric appointment, you must answer questions about yourself in an interview and take your naturalization test.

The interview will include questions about information on your application, as well as more information about your background and reasons for applying for citizenship. After your interview, you will take the naturalization test, including speaking, reading, and writing basic English, and a civic exam on U.S. history and government.

When Is the Waiting Period Different To Apply?

Applying for citizenship after gaining permanent residence typically requires at least five years. However, you may only have to wait three years in certain circumstances. For example, if you are the spouse of an American citizen, you only have to wait three years. You may not have to wait as long, either, if you serve in a branch of the U.S. Military.

You can also apply in three years under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which protects your eligibility if you separated from an abusive citizen spouse as a permanent resident.

Contact the American Dream® Law Office for Help Applying for Citizenship as a Permanent Resident

For help applying for citizenship after gaining permanent residence in Florida or anywhere in the country, contact the American Dream® Law Office, PLLC. The firm’s lawyers speak English, Spanish, and Arabic. Call today at (813) 499-1250 or complete the online form to schedule a strategy session with an experienced immigration attorney.

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