Transitioning from a green card to citizenship

On Behalf of | Sep 15, 2023 | Family Immigration

For those who received a green card through marriage, the end goal may still be citizenship. A green card allows you to live in the United States legally with your new spouse, and you’ll have the ability to do things like work or travel more freely. It is certainly a positive step that means you’ll no longer have to maintain a visa just to stay in the country.

But citizenship takes things a step further, and it is often very important for those who have gotten married with the intention of starting a family. If you are in this position, your spouse may already be a citizen, and you know that your future children will get birthright citizenship. So, what do you need to do to get citizenship for yourself?

The 3-year rule

The rules are a little different for those who’ve received a green card through marriage, rather than through other means. Traditionally, people have to wait five years before they can attempt to become U.S. citizens. But if a marriage was the reason for their green card, then they only need to wait for three years.

You do have to live with your spouse and live in the United States for those three years. Continuous residence is important. This doesn’t mean that vacations aren’t possible, but long trips outside of the United States should be avoided. For at least 18 months before applying, you have to be physically present in the country.

Other qualifications

Along with these rules based on your marriage, there are other qualifications that need to be met, as is true for anyone seeking citizenship. Some of these include:

  • Being a person of good character
  • Being able to speak and write in English (usually)
  • Understanding government and history
  • Understanding the Constitution and the principles it holds
  • Being at least 18 years old

If all of these things are true, then the biggest question simply becomes how long you have been married and lived within the United States. If you do meet these qualifications, although this does not guarantee that citizenship will be granted, it does give you the ability to get the process started. Make sure you know exactly what legal steps to take as you do so by seeking legal guidance as necessary.