Immigration Law: Can You Become a Citizen Through Marriage?

When an American citizen marries a foreign national, their spouse has the opportunity to become a U.S. citizen. Though the process is straightforward and takes far less time than is true of other paths to citizenship, it is still exacting. Careful attention must be paid to ensure that each of the prescribed steps is followed, all of the requirements are met, and all of the paperwork is submitted correctly. Having an experienced immigration law attorney working on your behalf can make things much easier and ensure greater success.

Foreign nationals seeking citizenship in the United States through marriage are able to apply after just three years of permanent residency and continuously having lived within the country and within the marital union. This is two years less than is the case for those seeking citizenship under almost any other status. The first requirement of a successful application for citizenship is that the spouse must already be a U.S. citizen and must actually be living in the country.

The other requirements include:

  • Applicants must be eighteen or older at the time of filing
  • Must submit an N-400 application
  • Must continue to be the spouse of the U.S. citizen up until the time of taking the oath of allegiance.
  • Must be physically present in the U.S. for at least 18 months of the three year period preceding the date of filing the application
  • Must live within the state or USCIS with jurisdiction over the applicant’s place of residence for at least three months before submitting the application
  • Must show that they understand English, including being able to read, write and speak the basic language
  • Must show knowledge and understanding of the basic history and principles of the U.S. government
  • Must have demonstrated good moral character over the three years prior to application up until the time of naturalization
  • Must demonstrate adherence to the U.S. Constitution

Of course, those foreign nationals who are married to a U.S. citizen and who have been in the country legally for at least five years can also apply for citizenship based on the more generalized status. Though this takes longer, it offers the advantage of not having to provide documentation regarding your marriage or relationship.

To learn more about the different paths to citizenship that are available to you, contact our experienced immigration law attorneys today to set up a time to talk.