Coming to the United States may have been a dream for you – just the same for many would-be citizens. Your marriage to a U.S. citizen gives you a once-in-a-lifetime chance to obtain a green card and experience America in all its entirety – but that isn’t the same as citizenship.
Once you get married to a current U.S. citizen you may apply for a green card. Your green card, however, doesn’t immediately grant you U.S. citizenship – like many are led to believe. You have to meet a few requirements for your citizenship, and applying for U.S. citizenship through naturalization is just one of the first steps.
How long does it take to complete naturalization?
Marriage can speed up the U.S. citizenship process for immigrants, but the results won’t be immediate. Getting U.S. citizenship could take three years, depending on when you apply.
You will have to live in a marital union for three continuous years, or meet the three-year rule, before applying for naturalization – meaning that if you leave the U.S. at any point for six months or longer you will have to restart your U.S. citizenship application.
If at any point you and your spouse divorce then you could be denied your citizenship (although exceptions apply). You don’t, however, have to stay married after you are granted your citizenship. Another option for immigrants to earn citizenship is by a five-year rule. Unmarried immigrants will need to wait five years with continuous U.S. residency before they can begin the naturalization process. The five-year rule is a more typical way for immigrants to earn citizenship.
If you are finding it difficult applying for naturalization or you’ve been denied the chance of U.S. citizenship then you may need to seek legal help.