If your beloved one is a foreigner, you probably think of all those procedures that come your way to be and live together in the United States. It is true that marrying a foreigner has specific practical implications, such as getting visas, green cards, and permits in order to get U.S. citizenship through marriage. But, the good news is that all the administrative processes for obtaining and renewing a visa and obtaining a green card are easily achievable once you set your documents in place so you can apply for U.S. citizenship.
Getting the U.S Citizenship
U.S. citizen spouse has the opportunity to get U.S. citizenship through marriage. With this article, we look at exactly how living in marital union with a U.S. citizen can lead to naturalization and citizenship marriage entails, so let’s start!
Before that- we would like to present ourselves if this is your first time here.
Who Are We?
We are a Herman Legal Group law firm that helps clients, not only in the United States but around the globe, to obtain all kinds of non-immigration and immigration visas and reunite with their families. More information and helpful articles about the legal immigration process you can find on websites of a government agency but also on our blog.
How can you become a U.S. citizen through marriage?
A spouse married to a U.S. citizen will not automatically be a U.S. citizen after they get married. While in marital union, you will need to go through the naturalization process.
Becoming a U.S. citizen through marriage starts off the same way most paths to naturalization start: by getting a green card. Obtaining the right to reside legally in the United States, travel outside the country and come back, have the right to vote, and be protected under the Constitution – can be long and challenging.
Having a green card for a certain number of years will make you eligible for U.S. citizenship.
Get a Green Card Through Marriage
The process of citizenship through naturalization allows a person who has a U.S. permanent resident status or a green card holder (now holding permanent residence status) to become a citizen of the United States.
Citizenship marriage eligibility criteria
To be eligible to apply, you need to:
- Be at least 18 years of age or older.
- Have the permanent residence status in the U.S. for (at least) three years immediately before the filing date
- Be married to a U.S. citizen spouse (your petitioner with whom you have a marital union) for at least three years before the filing date (you don’t have to wait for five years as other nonimmigrant visa holders)
- Reside in the state, or USCIS district with jurisdiction over the applicant’s place of residence, for at least three months before applying.
- Have continuous residence in the United States for at least three years immediately before the date you apply as a lawful permanent resident
- Continuously resided in the U.S. from the filing date until approval.
- Be physically present in the United States for at least 18 months of the preceding three years immediately before the date when you apply.
- Have enough English language skills to pass the civics test (be able to read, write and speak).
- Have a good moral character in alignment with the Constitution of the United States and a supportive attitude towards the United States during all relevant periods under the law.
When You Can Apply for Citizenship Marriage?
You or your spouse must submit your petition at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services USCIS office that has jurisdiction over the state or area you live in. If you were married for less than two years at the time of petitioning, you will be issued a conditional green card. Before 90 of the expiration of your conditional permanent residency which lasts two years, you can file your completed Form N-400.
To remove the conditions on the conditional green card before it expires, after two years, you will need to apply to remove the conditions 90 days before the expiration date with Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence. Afterward, you will take the Oath of Allegiance at the naturalization ceremony.
How long does it take?
The entire naturalization process is comprised of several steps. From filing the N-400 to taking the Oath of Allegiance, it may take 8 to 12 months if everything goes smoothly.
Step By Step to Apply for Citizenship –
If you fulfill the eligibility criteria mentioned above, you can apply for citizenship based on your marital union.
Here, we will go through the basic steps on the pathway to becoming a U.S. citizen through naturalization.
File Form N-400
Form N-400 defines various reasons for filing for citizenship or naturalization. It includes a bona fide marriage to a U.S. citizen. You will have to follow the instructions of the USCIS (the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services).
To file Form N-400, you will need the following documents:
- Copy of your Permanent Resident Card
- Copy of your marriage certificate
- Evidence that your marital union is a bona fide, like a wedding photo album and other supportive evidence
- Two passport-style photos.
Pay the Filing Fees
The filing fee of $640 has to be paid to the government agency. Also, if you are under the age of 75, you will need to pay an $85 fee to process biometric information to complete your application. On the USCIS website, you can find information on how to pay your fees.
When the USCIS processes your application, you will receive a notification about the date and time of interviews and tests you need to pass for your application to succeed. Usually, you will be required to write and pass a civics test that we mentioned above.
Receive Your Citizenship
Upon your application is successfully processed, USCIS will grant you U.S. citizenship. The process of your naturalization will depend on your situation.
Spouses of U.S. Citizens Employed Abroad
If your spouse seeking citizenship is employed abroad, he or she can, in some circumstances, have the eligibility requirements waived to support them.
Applicants who are contracted by the U.S. government or military and other qualifying employers must be listed to be stationed abroad for at least one year.
In this case, the following eligibility criteria will apply.
Spouses living abroad:
- Has no specific period requirement wherein the spouse must be a permanent resident; still, the applicant must be a U.S. permanent resident;
- Has no particular period requirement for continuous residence or physical presence in the U.S.;
- Has no particular requirement for marital union duration, but the spouses must be in a valid marital union at the date of application and until naturalization.
Inadmissibility and Citizenship Marriage
Even though there are cases when applicants fulfill the natural eligibility criteria, certain factors can make their applications inadmissible. The reasons for these scenarios can be issues such as a criminal record or a history of misdemeanors.
If any similar factor influences your case, the USCIS may view your application as inadmissible. Neither a Green Card nor citizenship will be granted if this is the case.
Do I Need Legal Help to Get U.S. Citizenship Through Marriage?
The naturalization process can be slightly complicated, especially if you are not sure whether any circumstances can be an obstacle to your case.
If you think that you or your spouse will need legal help with your application for naturalization from an immigration attorney, we would be more than glad to help you! With over 25 years of experience, Richard Herman provides legal advice and helps foreigners unite with their families, file the green card application, prepare for the interview, adjust status and go through naturalization application.