02 Sep When Can I Apply For U.S. Citizenship?
How to get US Citizenship?
To become a United States Citizen, you will first need to apply for a green card, also known as your legal permanent residency. Without your green card, generally you cannot legally work or remain in the United States for an extended period of time unless you have a type of non-immigrant visa that allows for these benefits (for example an F-1 Student Visa or an H-1B Visa). However, a green card is the most permanent way to reside in the United States in the long term and generally the most common path to U.S. Citizenship for those not born in the United States.
Not sure how to apply for a green card or how long it will take to become a U.S. citizen? Don’t worry. Keep scrolling to learn more about the U.S. Naturalization process, green card process and when you will be able to file to become a U.S. Citizen.
Determine Your Green Card Eligibility
The most popular way to obtain a green card is through an immediate family member. If you have a close relative who is also a U.S. citizen or green cardholder, they may be able to petition on your behalf for a green card. U.S. citizens are allowed to petition for their spouses, parents, children under 21 years old, as well as married and unmarried children over 21 years old, and their siblings. The first three categories are generally the quickest as immediate relatives while the others are under a quota system with a much longer wait. Legal Permanent Relatives can petition for their spouses, children under 21 and unmarried children over 21 years of age. These categories are all under a quota system as well and may have a significant wait.
Obtaining your green card through employment is another option. This green card category also includes avenues to getting your green card through having a special job or through investments. Your employer can petition for your green card through USCIS form I-140. If you can put enough money into a U.S. business, you may also be able to obtain a green card. Entrepreneurs who can invest at least $1.8 million into a new business, or $900,00 into a business located in targeted employment area, can also apply for a green card. Finally, specialist jobs such as Iraqi or Afghani translators who worked for the U.S. government in Iraq can apply for a green card.
Filing Your U.S. Green Card Application and Obtaining U.S. Citizenship
Once you’ve narrowed down the best option for you, you will likely need your sponsor to file a specific petition. See below the forms depending on your citizenship application:
- Immediate Relative/Family Member of a U.S. Citizen: File form I-130
- Employer-sponsored: File form I-140
- Through Investing: File form I-526
- Through a specialist category: File form I-360
Once you have filed the appropriate petition you can check how many visas are available in that category. Immediate relatives of U.S. citizens do not have to wait long typically as there is an unlimited number of visas in this category. If you are applying through employment or other non-immediate family categories, there are limited numbers of these, and you can check your place in line using the “Visa Bulletin” and the priority date in the receipt notice you will receive on the mail.
Once you have obtained your green card, you will generally be able to apply for U.S. Citizenship after being a green card holder for 5 years. Some persons, such as spouses of U.S. Citizenship who have been living and married with their spouse for the allotted time, may apply for U.S. Citizenship after 3 years of being a green card holder.
Gaining permanent residency or eventually obtaining U.S. Citizenship is not an easy or straightforward process. At Dominguez Law Firm, PLLC, we are dedicated to assisting our clients in navigating the immigration process and ensure it is as smooth and stress-free as possible. Contact Dominguez Law Firm, PLLC today if you’re interested in learning more about how you or your loved one can become an American citizen.