The most common path to citizenship begins with receiving a Green Card (link to Green Card blog). After obtaining a Green Card and possessing it for 5 or more years while living in the United States, the permanent resident can then apply for naturalization to become a citizen.
Once a citizen has his or her Green Card, 5 years later, the process is essentially the same: complete paperwork and then await approval. Leading up to that, though, there are requirements you must comply with during the 5-year period.
- You must be 18 or older.
- You must be a green card holder for a total of at least 5 years.
- You must live in the same state for at least 3 months.
- Students who file get to decide to use where they go to school or where their family lives, depending on their dependency status.
- You must maintain continuous residence in the United States for 5 years.
- You must physically reside in the United States for 30 months out of the 5 years before filing the application.
- Essentially, you can visit outside of the country, but you cannot stay in another country for extended periods of time.
- You must remain in the United States between filing for and receiving naturalization.
- In short, while you may be out of the country at some point during the 5 years before you file, you must remain in the country after you file for naturalization until your citizenship application has gone through the approval process.
- You must pass the citizenship test.
- This test consists of English, U.S. History, and government tests.
- You must be a person of good moral standing.
- Essentially, at this point (and at every point), it is essential to not be involved in crime or any other misdeeds.
- If all goes well, you will receive your notice to take the Oath of Allegiance.
It will take almost 7 years to complete the Green Card process. Applying for naturalization potentially adds another 8–12 months or longer, bringing the total to 8 years or longer to receive citizenship.
This process is costly not only in terms of time but also money. To process an application for naturalization, it will cost an additional $725. If you remain a permanent resident, the fee can be estimated at around $7,680 over a lifetime.
It is important to note that many applications get denied, even for simple errors. It is important to reach out for assistance if needed during the process. The team at Joey Gilbert Law is always ready and willing to provide assistance and help you achieve citizenship.