What are the requirements to file for citizenship and when can I apply for citizenship?

  • Legal, permanent residents are eligible to apply for citizenship in two different ways. One way is if you obtained your permanent resident status through a spouse, and you continue to live with them. You can apply for citizenship within three years of obtaining your permanent resident status. Other individuals who obtained their permanent residency status through other means can apply for citizenship after five years.
  • If you are eligible, you need to show that you’ve had permanent resident status for at least three to five years. You must have been in the United States for at least half that time, 18 months to 30 months. You cannot have broken continuous residence.  In other words, you cannot have stayed outside of the United States for more than one year, and you cannot have been convicted of certain crimes.
  • You also have to have positive, good moral character for the five years immediately preceding the application. Obviously, certain criminal convictions will bar you from filing for citizenship, or you will have to wait those five years. If you do have some immigration violations that may cause you not to be eligible.

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