If you have had your green card for 5 years (or 3 years if you obtained your green card through marriage to USC), you may be eligible to apply for US citizenship. Your application for naturalization can be submitted to USCIS within 90 days prior to the expiration of the 5 (or 3) year period. However, there are some key details that could hinder your ability to naturalize, so it is essential to consult an experienced immigration attorney before filing.
During the naturalization process, you must be able to show Good Moral Character (GMC) for the 5 years preceding your application (or 3 years if you received your green card through marriage to USC). USCIS defines Good Moral Character as “character which measures up to the standards of average citizens of the community in which the applicant resides.” An applicant may be found to lack GMC for certain criminal conduct. If you have had any criminal convictions, arrests, or detentions, including DUIs or failure to pay child support, it is crucial that you let your attorney know. In some cases, your attorney may recommend waiting to naturalize until the offense is outside of the 5-year GMC period.
Additionally, to qualify for naturalization, you must have had continuous residence in the US during the 5- or 3-year period preceding your application, and you must have been physically present in the US for at least half of that time. It’s important to properly account for all of your time outside the US before filing your N-400 application.
After your application for naturalization is processed, you will be scheduled for a naturalization interview. For more information about the naturalization interview, see our blog post Preparing for the Naturalization Interview. After your application is approved, USCIS will mail you an invitation to your Oath Ceremony, where you will complete your naturalization process by taking the Oath of Allegiance to the United States.
Obtaining your U.S. citizenship is the final and most exciting step in your immigration process. Contact Maged & Rost if you have any questions about the process.