Evidencing Your Naturalization Application When Applying After Marrying a US Citizen Spouse
If you have looked into the process of US citizenship by naturalization, you might have noticed potentially conflicting information about how long you need to be a Legal Permanent Resident (LPR) in the country before applying for naturalization. Immigration law states that you must be a green card holder – or an LPR – for either 3 or 5 years.
Why is this? We will explain it in more detail below.
The Difference Between 3-Year and 5-Year Citizenship Routes
Simply put, the standard route to citizenship by naturalization requires you to be an LPR for 5 years. This involves continuous presence in the United States for those 5 years, providing you never stay out of the country for more than a year at a time or 2.5 years in total.
On the other hand, there are three ways a non-US citizen can apply for naturalization before 5 years. The first manner is being the victim of domestic violence and had obtained your LPR status under VAWA. The second manner is having joined the United State military.
The third manner is marrying a United States citizen. A non-citizen who married a US citizen can “fast track” their citizenship application. It is here that the time required reduces to 3 years. It’s worth noting, however, that marriage to a US citizen doesn’t get the immigrant automatic citizenship. Rather, it serves as the basis for green card sponsorship and reduces the timeline to apply for citizenship.
Requirements for Citizenship by Naturalization
To apply for citizenship using Form N-400, you must meet all the eligibility criteria of a standard application. This means you must:
- ·Have been continuously physically present in the US
- Have been an LPR for the required period
- Be able to pass an English language test
- Have basic knowledge of American civics
- Be of good moral character
We won’t go into detail on these points, as they are explained in another post on our site. Check that out if you’d like more information on meeting eligibility criteria for Form N-400.
The biggest difference with applying through marriage is that you must prove the legitimacy of your marriage. There are several extra criteria you must meet:
Living with your spouse
You must have lived with your US citizen spouse for a minimum of 3 years.
Your spouse must have been a US citizen for the entire length of your marriage, and, unsurprisingly, you must remain married. If you get divorced within the first 3 years, you lose your eligibility to fast track your citizenship application and you must wait until your 5th year to apply for naturalization.
Proof of living in marital union
Living together as a married couple is considered “living in marital union”. In short, you need to prove that you have a life together in the US. There are plenty of documents that prove this, and you might be expected to show some (or all) during your application.
Ensure you have copies of:
- Your marriage certificate
- Your birth certificate
- Birth certificates of any children you have had together
- Evidence of joint bank accounts
- Evidence of living together (mortgage statements, rent receipts, joint bills, etc.)
- Your tax returns
All this information proves your marriage is legitimate in the eyes of immigration law. It shows (on paper at least) that you live together, share finances, and have joint responsibilities.
Know your spouse
Finally, you might be asked questions, though it is not common, about your spouse during your citizenship interview. These questions won’t be too personal; they are designed to ensure you know each other in a legitimate way. In the past, citizenship by marriage was a common ‘scam’ – people would marry so one could enter the country legally and then they would divorce soon after.
While this still happens, USCIS has taken steps to reduce the incident rate.
When questions, for example, you might be asked about how you met, what you wore to your wedding, how many guests attended, etc. Similarly, you might get asked about your daily routines: who gets up first, who takes the kids to school, etc. It isn’t a guarantee that the interviewer will ask these questions but, if they do, there’s no reason to be concerned.
Applying for Citizenship by Marriage
Citizenship by marriage allows spouses a quicker route to completing their naturalization process.
By using our software, you will be assured that your naturalization application is filled out correctly, and, at the end, you will be provided with a detail evidence list of documents that should accompany your naturalization application. If that is not enough, we can refer you to an attorney who can review your packet or answer your questions at a reduced price.
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