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Calculate When You Can Apply for Citizenship after Obtaining Your Green Card

Does this Apply to You

If you are a permanent resident or green card holder who intends to apply for US citizenship by way of “Naturalization” then this applies to you. This will also apply to you if you are an immigrant under the following categories:

  1. Green Card through Family
  2. Green Card through a Job
  3. Green Card through Family
  4. Green Card through Refugee and Asylee Status

When to Apply for Your U.S. Citizenship

citizenship family

Not all individuals who are granted entry to the United States may apply for “Naturalization.” This is a long process available only to Lawful Permanent Residents or Green card holders who have lived in the US for a period of not less than five (5) years. If you have forgotten the date, just look at the date when you were issued your Permanent Resident Card or “Green Card.”

Contact us at to get started

The Five-year Residency Requirement

The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) defined the rules when a lawful permanent resident can start the naturalization process of obtaining their U.S. citizenship. Normally, the you can apply for your U.S. citizenship or naturalization after 5 years of stay in the US,

Additional Citizenship Requirements

The 5 year period may be extended by reason of the applicant’s failure to comply with additional requirements particularly the “continuous residence” and the “physical presence” rule. Absence of less than 6 months from the U.S. does not affect the 5-year residency requirement. A long period of absence will affect the 5-year residency requirement.

The five-year residency requirement may be extended under the following circumstances:

  • Applicant is absent from the US for more than 6 months to less than 1 year
  • Applicant is absent from the US for one year or more
  • Applicant must be physically present for at least 30 months during the five-year period
  • or 18 months physically present if the applicant is the spouse of the US citizen.
  • Applicant must live in the state for at least 3 months before filing their citizenship application

Apply 90 Days Early

You can file your Naturalization/citizenship application 90 days before the expiry date of your permanent residence status or 4 years and 9 months. If you file before the 90 days of your anniversary your application may be denied.

Apply Earlier Than 5 Years

For some reasons, the U.S. Naturalization laws are more lenient to a particular group of people and provide some exemptions to the 5-year residency rule.The waiting period may be shortened to three (3) years, four (4) years, one (I) year or an even shorter period under certain circumstances.

The applicant will only need to prove that he is exempt from the residency requirement and possesses all other qualifications.

Green card to Citizenship for Spouses in the U.S. (3 years)

A foreign national spouse who has been a permanent resident for three years and living with the US citizen spouse, can apply for Naturalization after three years of continuous stay in the US.

Green card to Citizenship for Refugees (4 years or less)

For Refugees, the period is counted backwards which is termed as “Rollback”. Refugees who were granted with refugee status in the US can start counting the five-year period on the day they entered the US even before they eventually become a permanent resident. They are considered permanent resident the whole time.

Green card to Citizenship for Asylum (4 years or less)

For Asylees, they are entitled to (1) year “rollback” which begins one year before they received their permanent resident status. Thus, they have 4 years more counted from the day they were issued with Lawful Permanent Resident card or green card.

Green card to Citizenship for Abused Spouses (3 years)

Spouses of US citizens are given three (3) years residency requirement, provided, the spouses are living together legitimately as married couple. Such condition to “stay together” is not required when living together is not possible with an abusive US citizen spouse. The applicant spouse may be granted three years to apply for US citizenship without the condition attached.

Green Card to Citizenship for members of the armed forces (1 year)

Members of the US Armed Forces are granted expedited citizenship. They can start the application process after being issued with green card and established that they had rendered a total of 1-year of active service (even if service is discontinuous).

They can also file his application for Naturalization within 6 months after he is discharge from service. Likewise, the spouses of members of US armed forces may also apply for expedited citizenship.

Green card to Citizenship for Spouses outside the U.S. (immediate)

In some special cases, the spouse of a US citizen can apply for Naturalization without observing the 3 or 5-year permanent residency compliance. They are those whose US citizen spouse are employed in certain occupation employed abroad by: U.S. Government, American Institution of Research, or American corporation engaged in the development of foreign trade and U.S. commerce.

Your Next Step

If you believe you qualify for a Green card contact us at This will allow you to confirm whether you qualify and start your Green card application.