When Can I Apply for U.S. Citizenship?

Categories: immigration

Permanent Resident Card

If you are a lawful permanent resident of the United States (if you have a green card) and you are like many other people who have immigrated to the U.S., the next step for you is to apply to become a U.S. citizen. For individuals whose parents are not U.S. citizens, the process of obtaining citizenship is known as “naturalization.”

What are the Requirements to Apply for Naturalization?

Under U.S. federal immigration laws, not just anyone can obtain citizenship through naturalization. In order to be eligible to apply, you generally must:

  • Be at least 18 years of age;
  • Be a person of good moral character;
  • Have a basic knowledge of the U.S. government;
  • Have maintained a period of continuous residence and physical presence in the United States; and,
  • Be able to read, write, and speak at least basic English.

In addition, in order to apply for naturalization, you must have been a lawful permanent resident for at least a minimum period of time. For most people, this period of time is five years. However, you may be eligible to seek citizenship sooner if either:

  • You have been a lawful permanent resident for at least three years during which you have been married to a U.S. citizen; or,
  • You have a record of honorable service in the U.S. military.

It is important to note that there are a number of exceptions to the general requirements that we have outlined above. For example, individuals with certain physical and mental impairments may be eligible to waive the basic knowledge and English competency requirements. The English competency requirement may also be waived for individuals who are at least 55 years old and who have held their green cards for at least 15 years, and for individuals who are at least 50 years old and have spent at least 20 years as a lawful permanent resident. Depending on your personal circumstances, other exceptions may be available, as well.

In addition, successfully completing the application for naturalization can be challenging, and even simple mistakes can result in significant delays – and potentially even denial of your application. While we encourage you to inform yourself as much as possible about your eligibility and the steps involved in applying for citizenship, there is no substitute for seeking the assistance of a qualified immigration attorney.

Disclaimer: This Article Is Not Legal Advice.

Never rely on an article for legal advice as the law frequently changes, information may not be accurate, there may be exceptions to a rule, and reliance may be detrimental. Always consult one of our experienced attorneys for competent, current, and accurate legal advice.

Speak with an Immigration Lawyer at Crooks, Low & Connell, S.C.

At Crooks, Low & Connell, S.C. we help individuals throughout North Central Wisconsin navigate the U.S. citizenship application process. If you would like to speak with an immigration lawyer about applying for naturalization, please contact us for an initial consultation. To schedule an appointment with an attorney at our offices in Wausau, WI, send us a message online or call (715) 842-2291 today.