When can I apply for citizenship in the US? It’s a common question, but there are so many variables. The short answer is that it depends on how you got your green card.

There are different requirements for how long you have to wait before applying for naturalization, depending on how long it has been since you became a permanent resident. This blog post will discuss the complete guide on acquiring US citizenship.

Naturalization: Applying For US Citizenship Explained in Detail

To achieve US citizenship, you first need to become a permanent resident. A green card holder can apply as soon as they meet all eligibility requirements for naturalization. People who get their green cards through family sponsorship or the visa lottery do not have to wait any period before applying for citizenship.

US Naturalization
US Naturalization

However, people who get their green cards through employment sponsorship in the US must wait five years before applying for citizenship unless they are married to a US citizen. If you get your green card by marrying a US citizen, you will not need to spend any time waiting to apply for citizenship. You can begin the process of naturalization immediately.

When To Apply as US Citizen – Detailed Table

Here is a complete table where you can see when you are eligible to apply as a US citizen:

Applying asLived in the StatesApplying After 
Green card holder (Normally)30 months (2.5 years)After 5 years
Green card holder (Married to a US person)18 months (1.5 years)After 3 years
Military Serving’s WidowNot requiredAnytime
Green card holder (1-year Army Services)Not required6 Month Duty
Green card holder Army Person (<1 Year)30 months (2.5 years)After 5 years
Green card holder Army Person (Left army, but served 1 year)30 months (2.5 years)After 5 years
War Time Serving Army PersonnelNot requiredAnytime
When to Apply for US Citizenship

Factors That Influence Your Citizenship Eligibility

Some factors will determine how long you must be a green card holder to naturalize, such as how long it has been since you became a permanent resident.

The Factors include:

  • How Long You’ve Had Your Green Card?
  • How Long You Were A Permanent Resident Before The Age Of 18?
  • How Long Has It Been Since Your Last Entry To Us?
  • The Period Required Can Be As Little As 5 Months, Or As Much As 8 Years.

It is important to remember that the immigration officer at the naturalization interview will make this final decision.

Citizenship Eligibility
Citizenship Eligibility

Requirements of Applying for a US Citizenship

To naturalize in the US, there are several requirements that you will need to meet. The requirements include:

  • You Should Be A Permanent Resident For At Least 5 Years
  • You Must Be 18 Or Older When You File For Citizenship
  • Live Continuously In The Us During That Period, And Not Traveling Abroad
  • You Must Not Have Spent More Than 1 Year Outside The Us During Your 5 Years As A Green Card Holder.

If you can meet the eligibility requirements, you can begin the application process for citizenship.

Green Card Application
Green Card Application

Exceptions Based on Age and Disability

Several exceptions can prevent you from applying for citizenship, such as how long you’ve been a permanent resident and how old you were when you became one.

Refer to this table to get a detailed perspective:

ExceptionEnglish ExemptionCivics Exemption
Age 50 and older and possessing a green card, and has been a US resident for at least 20 yearsYesNo
Green cardholders who are 55 years old &lived in the US for at least 15 yearsYesNo
A green card holder at least 20 years old and at least 65 years oldYesNo*
Medically disabled applicants who have endured, or are expected to endure, at least 12 monthsYes (with approved waiver)Yes (with approved waiver)
Factors Based on Age and Disability

How To Apply for Citizenship in the US?

If you meet the eligibility requirements and want to apply for citizenship, you will need to schedule an appointment with your nearest office of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

There will be a requirement to provide documents containing information about how long you have been a permanent resident. Moreover, how long you’ve lived in the US, how long it’s been since your last entry into the country, how long it has been since you got your green card, and how many years you spent as a permanent resident before getting married a US citizen.

How to Apply for Citizenship
How to Apply for Citizenship

You will also need to bring with you evidence of how long it has been since your last departure from the US. It can be in the form of a re-entry permit or another document stating how long you have been outside the country. Every naturalization applicant must pass an English test and a civics exam for their citizenship application to be considered successful.

The USCIS officer will also look into your background records to ensure that you are not a threat to the US. You will be required to complete a questionnaire and take your fingerprints so that they can investigate how long you have been living in the US and how long it has been since your last entry into the country.

After completion, you will attend an interview with a USCIS officer to check your documentation and ask some questions about it. Once they have reviewed your details, they will tell you how many months or years you must pass before applying for citizenship.

Final Verdict: When Can I Apply for Citizenship in the US?

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is responsible for processing all applications for citizenship in the United States. There are a few ways to become a citizen of the United States. The most common way is to be born in the US or have one parent who is a US citizen born in the country.

Apply for US Citizenship
Apply for US Citizenship

Other ways include being granted asylum or refugee status, marrying a US citizen, or serving in the military. All these ways are the legal ways to become a US citizen. For reference, please take a look at our table, and let us know your thoughts in the comments section.


What is the process for applying for citizenship in the US?

Applying for citizenship in the US depends on your eligibility and where you are in the process. Generally, you will need to file an Application for Naturalization (Form N-400), provide proof of eligibility, have a biometric appointment, take the naturalization test, and attend an interview with a USCIS officer. For more information or assistance, don’t hesitate to get in touch with your local USCIS office.

Are there any special requirements to apply for US citizenship?

There are a few special requirements to apply for US citizenship. To begin with, you must be at least 18 years old and have been a lawful permanent resident of the US for at least five years. You must also have good moral character and pass a citizenship test. Finally, you must take an oath of allegiance to the US.

What are some of the benefits of being a US citizen? 

There are many benefits to being a US citizen, including the right to vote, travel and work in other countries, and access to social welfare and education programs. Additionally, US citizens also benefit from living in one of the most prosperous and stable countries in the world.

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