Ep. 40 Time for Citizenship: How many years after obtaining a Green Card can one apply for Citizenship?

  • How a person got his permanent residency is important
  • If one is still married with the US citizen, one can apply for a citizenship after three years. However, if one is divorced to the US citizen, one can only apply after five years since the date of one’s green card.
  • But any other form – except being married to a US citizen – i.e. green card through employment, you have to wait five years.

Raw Transcript:

Jacob: Hello everybody, this is Jacob with Ask an Immigration Lawyer Podcast – you ask, we answer, simple.

Today’s question is from our Facebook page and it’s from Tony. Tony is asking, “I’m a green card holder. I’ve been a green card holder for the past 10 years. How many years do I need to wait from the moment I got my green card to the moment where I can file for my US citizenship?” Well, that’s a great question.

So, typically, when a permanent resident becomes a permanent resident, we really need to understand how that person got his permanent residency. So if you got it based on marriage to a US citizen and you’re still married to the US citizen – you’re still living and residing with that US citizen – you can apply for a citizenship after three years from the date of your green card. But if you’re no longer in a relationship, if you’re no longer living with that US citizenship, if you’re divorced, you have to wait five years from the moment you got the green card.

Also, it’s important to find out if you got a green card through employment. So, you have an H1B, you have a green card then a company sponsored you to get a green card, those people must wait five years. So, any other form – except for marriage to a US citizen – you typically have to wait five years. There’s some exceptions to that but that’s pretty much the general rule.

And, of course, if you’ve been absent from the United States during the five-year period or three-year period, make sure to consult with an immigration attorney to find out if you qualify because of residency. Again, general rule, five years unless you’re married to a US citizen then it’s three years. It’s an exception.

So, good luck in your citizenship application. Any questions, any other questions you can email us jacob@askanimmigrationlawyer or on our Facebook page. We love to hear from you and we’ll see you at our next episode. You ask, we answer, simple.