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U.S. Citizenship

In order to become a United States Citizen, for most people, you must have a green card and meet the below listed requirements. There are only a few exceptions where a green card is not required prior to applying for U.S. Citizenship.

Requirements for U.S. Citizenship

1.You have had your permanent residence (green card) for at least 5 years unless you obtained your green card through marriage to a U.S. Citizen in which case you must have had your green card for 3 years (you may apply for U.S. Citizenship 90 days before the 5 year or 3 year mark)

2. Continuance Residence. With Continuance Residence you must show that you maintained your residence within the United States for the required time period.  You must have 5 years worth of continuous residence immediately preceding the date you file your N-400.  The 5 year requirement is reduced to 3 years if you received your green card based on marriage to a United States Citizen and in some situations this requirement can be waived completely.

If you have a trip that is less than 180 days in length you will not disrupt this requirement.  However if you have had a trip for 180 days or longer you should speak to an immigration attorney prior to filing your case.  Also, if you had multiple trips, with just a short return to the U.S. in between, you should speak to an immigration attorney.

3. Physical Presence You must have been physically present in the United States in order to obtain your U.S. Citizenship.  If you are filing based on the 5 year waiting requirement then you must have been physically present for 30 months over the 5 year period immediately preceding the filing of your N-400.  If you are filing based on the 3 year waiting requirement then you must have been physically present for 18 months immediately preceding the filing of your N-400.  This requirement can be waived for certain applicants.

Physical presence is cumulative.  You would add each and every day you were outside the United States to come up with your total time outside of the U.S.  USCIS does not like it when it appears that you are not treating the United States as where you live.

4. You are at least 18 years old.

5. You can speak, read and write in English. There are exceptions to this rule. Please visit our article: Top 10 Things USCIS Checks at your citizenship interview.

6, You must have good moral character.

7. You will swear that you believe in the U.S. Constitution.

Green Card Can be Revoked when applying for U.S. Citizenship

When you apply for U.S. Citizenship you put your green card on the line. USCIS will review your complete immigration history and they will learn of any crimes that you committed since obtaining your green card. USCIS can determine that you should not have obtained your green card originally or it can determine that due to a crime you committed that it can revoke your green card. You would then be removed from the United States. If you have any concerns about qualifying for naturalization please do not hesitate to contact our office.

Lawrence Gruner is a U.S. Citizenship Attorney, a Marriage Green Card Attorney and a Fiance Visa Attorney. He would be happy to consult with you, free of charge, about your immigration case. He may be reached at 916-760-7270 or via email at




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