The Spouse of a United States citizen who resides in the United States may be eligible for naturalization on the basis of his or her marriage. The spouse must have continuously resided in the United States after becoming a Lawful Permanent Resident for at least 3 years. The spouse must have lived in marital union with his or her United States citizen spouse for at least 3 years.
Naturalization is the process by which a non-citizen becomes a citizen of the United States. One way to obtain U.S. citizenship is through marriage to a U.S. citizen. However, this requires fulfilling several requirements and following certain procedures.
Establishing Permanent Residency
The first step to obtaining U.S. citizenship through marriage is to establish permanent residency in the United States. This means obtaining a Permanent Resident Card, also known as a Green Card, which provides proof that the person is a lawful permanent resident of the United States. To obtain a Green Card through marriage, the U.S. citizen spouse must file Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, and pay the filing fee to obtain the proper visa permission for the foreign spouse to immigrate to the U.S.1. After the arrival of the foreign spouse, he or she must file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, and pay the filing fee to adjust his or her status to that of a permanent resident. If the foreign spouse is already in the U.S. legally, both forms can be filed at the same time. The USCIS will then schedule an interview with both spouses to verify the validity of their marriage and other eligibility criteria2. If the marriage is less than two years old at the time of granting permanent resident status, the foreign spouse will receive a conditional Green Card, which can be removed by filing Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence, within the 90-day period before its expiration.
Applying for Citizenship
The second step to obtaining U.S. citizenship through marriage is to apply for naturalization. The foreign spouse must be a permanent resident (Green Card holder) for at least three years and have been living in marital union with the U.S. citizen spouse during that time. The foreign spouse must also meet other general eligibility requirements for naturalization, such as being at least 18 years old, having continuous residence and physical presence in the U.S., being able to read, write and speak English, having knowledge of U.S. history and government, and being a person of good moral character. To apply for naturalization, the foreign spouse must file Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, along with requested documentation and appropriate fee2. The foreign spouse may file this application up to 90 days before meeting the required three-year period of continuous residence. If approved, the foreign spouse will take the Oath of Allegiance and become a U.S. citizen.
Obtaining U.S. citizenship through marriage is not a fast or easy process. It requires patience, attention to detail, and compliance with various rules and regulations. It also requires that the marriage be bona fide and not entered into for immigration purposes only 1. The USCIS may investigate any evidence of fraud or misrepresentation in the marriage or the application process1. If found guilty of such conduct, the foreign spouse may face deportation or criminal charges. Therefore, it is advisable to consult with an immigration attorney before starting this process.
We certainly hope you find this petition useful and helpful and hope for the best immigration experience you can have. We do have petitions on every subject area of immigration, and you might look at those if needed as well. If you do need to actually have a consultation, you can call our U.S. Immigration Law office at 562-495-0554 for an initial free consultation to determine what must be done to help you and your family.