The right time to file for US citizenship depends on a couple of factors. It all has to do with your status as a permanent resident.
A permanent resident, also referred to as a Green Card holder, is a foreign national who has been granted the right to live and work in the United States permanently. The Green Card is an official document the U.S. government administers, and it serves as evidence for the permanent residence authorization.
Most people become Green Card holders either through a U.S. citizen or permanent resident family member, Family-based Green Card, or through a U.S. employer, Employment-based Green Card. Other people file to become permanent residents as refugees or asylees. There are other ways of getting a Green Card, but they are not as common. They include the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program, the Green Card for Cuban natives and the Green Card for religious workers.
Apply for Naturalization
After you have been a Green Card holder for a certain period of time, you can apply for U.S. citizenship through a process called Naturalization. You can be eligible for naturalization if you fulfill one of the following time requirements:
- You have been a Green Card holder for a minimum of 5 years.
- You are the spouse of U.S. citizen, and you have been a Green Card holder for a minimum of 3 years.
- You are a Green Card holder and have served honorably in the U.S. armed forces for at least 1 year.
It is possible to apply for citizenship 90 calendar days before your minimum required time. This is available to permanent residents of five years and permanent resident spouses of three years. You must be sure that you meet all the other Naturalization eligibility requirements set forth by Congress.
It’s always a good idea to apply for citizenship as soon as you become eligible.