Many Green Card holders are unaware of US citizenship and though they are eligible for it, they fail to apply for US citizenship as they do not know how to apply for and obtain citizenship status. Hence, it is mandatory to know well about the rights and responsibilities of Green Card holders and about US citizenship. Generally, a foreign national who has been living in the United States for the past five years as a Green Card holder can apply for US citizenship. However, you need not wait for five years if you had got your Green Card based on marriage to a US citizen and you can apply for US citizenship, after three years from the date of becoming a Green Card holder and you may file your US citizenship application, Form N-400, three months before the eligibility date. You must not file your application too early as your petition will be rejected and you need to file your naturalization application only if you believe that you are eligible for citizenship status.
According to the US immigration laws, you can apply for US citizenship only if you have lived in the United States for five years. If you were granted lawful status on 31st March, 2008, you will become eligible for US citizenship on 31st March, 2013. If you are a US citizen’s spouse and if you had obtained your Green Card based on marriage, you just need to wait for three years to apply for US citizenship and not for five years. In this case, you must still be married to the same US citizen. Similarly, abused spouses of US citizens also can apply for US citizenship after three years even if they are currently not living with their US citizen spouses but they need to provide all the required supporting documents and prove that they have suffered mental or physical abuse.
Spouses of US citizens, who are employed in foreign countries can apply for US citizenship, even if they have not lived in America as lawful residents for five years. However, this does not apply to everyone and the applicants will have to meet a variety of eligibility requirements to apply for US citizenship and they need to establish that they wish to settle in the United States and only the spouses of US citizens who work for the US government, for US research institutions or for religious denominations, will become eligible. However, Green Card holders who have not spent the required amount of time in the United States, individuals who have not lived in the American states where they file their US citizenship applications for at least three months and people who have lived abroad for a year within the past five years, will have to wait for a long time to apply for US citizenship.
If you qualify, you may file your US citizenship application and your application must be filed along with the prescribed form filing fee of $680. After receiving your application, the service center will mail you an application confirmation notice and your priority date will be printed on that notice. Followed by that, you will be required to submit fingerprints and other biometrics information. You may be given a small booklet that contains questions that will be asked in the US citizenship test, at the application support center, at the time of fingerprinting.
You may receive your naturalization interview letter within 2 or 3 months from the date of fingerprinting and you need to prepare for the interview in advance and it may not be easy to get through the naturalization interview without preparation. English and the civics tests will be conducted and you need to get through both these tests and only if you pass all these tests, you will be called for the naturalization oath ceremony. During that oath ceremony, you will have to give up your permanent resident status and hand over your Green Card. You must then swear the oath and obtain your naturalization certificate.