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How To Get U.S. Citizenship Through Marriage?

There are many benefits to being an American citizen. With citizenship you’re able to vote in elections, travel outside the country, and have protection from deportation. 

Obtaining American citizenship is a dream for many. Sadly, many roadblocks stand in the way of achieving that goal. Some people don’t qualify for citizenship based on past crimes. Others struggle to obtain citizenship because they lack the right paperwork. Marriage is one resource that could make citizenship a little easier.

Do you want to learn how to get a US citizenship through marriage? We’ll explain how this works below so you’ll stay on the right track.

Requirements for Citizenship Through Marriage

Obtaining citizenship through marriage is among the easier methods on the table. There are still paperwork and requirements to sift through on your way to success.

Mexico has the highest amount of immigrants seeking naturalization in the country, followed by India and the Philippines. 

Basic Requirements

man with a ring signing a document

Let’s start off with the most basic requirements, many of which you likely have. To qualify for citizenship through marriage, you need to be eighteen years old or older. 

If you obtained your lawful permanent residence through your U.S. citizen spouse, you need to be a lawful permanent resident for three years when you file for citizenship. You also need to have been residing with your spouse for those three years and at the time you file your citizenship. If you don’t qualify for the latter, put your plans on hold a little longer. 

Extended Requirements

Now we’ll move to the extended requirements for US citizenship through marriage. While this information is a lot to keep track of, this process is designed to vet citizens as thoroughly as possible.

You must be physically present in the country for at least eighteen months out of the three years before the date of application. This rule is to ensure you’re serious about the process and are interested in long-term residency. You must also show continuous residence in the United States for the last three years. 

You also must demonstrate proficiency in English, an understanding of American civics, and good moral character.

Process to Gain Citizenship Through Marriage

While the above list is not comprehensive, this information is still a good start on your path to citizenship. Once you’ve confirmed your qualifications, your next step is to start the filing process.

Fill Out Form N-400

Your first step on the way to becoming a citizen through marriage is filling out Form N-400. This form is known as the Application For Naturalization, which comes with a fee of $725. 

Gather Up Identity Documents

Your next step is to gather up your identity documents, including but not always limited to:

  • Your LPR card (green card)
  • Marriage certificate
  • Evidence of prior divorce if you or your spouse were married previously

After your citizenship application is filed, you will be required to attend a biometrics appointment where an immigration official will take your fingerprints and photo so they can do a background check.

Complete Your American Citizenship Interview

a woman completing her immigration interview

Eventually, after your case is filed with immigration,, your next step is the interview. This interview is designed to ensure you meet the citizenship requirements and know basic U.S. history and the workings of the U.S. government.

To prepare for this interview, we recommend you study up on American civics and English proficiency. USCIS offers a free study guide on their website. You may also face additional questions about your marriage if there are any conflicting or unusual details in your documents. For example, applying under the three-year rule may yield questions about the validity of the marriage.

Who Can Qualify for Citizenship Through Marriage?

Most green card holders must wait five years before they are eligible to file for citizenship. If you have an American spouse and a green card through marriage to that spouse, you can apply after three years.

As stated above, the three year rule may yield a little scrutiny during the interview process. This detail doesn’t mean you’ll be rejected, of course. If you divorce your spouse before the three years is up, you’ll then be referred to the five year rule.

Keep in mind that certain events will nullify your application, such as the death of a spouse or physical separation. 

Will Marriage Automatically Make You a U.S. Citizen?

Marriage does not automatically make you a US citizen. Getting married to a U.S. citizen also does not guarantee you a green card. 

False marriages and fraudulent paperwork are put under significant scrutiny in the United States. Never assume that any act will automatically lead to another act in the field of law. When in doubt, ask your lawyer to make sure. 

Should You Hire a Lawyer for Help with Citizenship Through Marriage?

One of the best ways to successfully gain US citizenship through marriage is to reach out to a qualified lawyer. Professional insight will ensure you’re not missing out on vital details that could delay or deny your application.

A lawyer will ensure you achieve the following benefits on your way to naturalization: 

  • Filling out the appropriate paperwork on time
  • Finding the correct documents for your case
  • Answering any questions or concerns you have
  • Helping you pay the right fees
  • Keeping you updated on changes in immigration law
  • Advocating for you during your interview with a U.S. government official, which can be intimidating and overwhelming. 

Talk To An Immigration Lawyer

American flag being held up by two people

Getting US citizenship through marriage is a lengthy process, but very much worth the effort.

You will not automatically gain American citizenship through the marriage process. You are required by law to fill out Form N-400, pay legal fees, and complete an American citizenship review. Hiring a lawyer will ensure your application is processed as quickly as possible.

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