Naturalization – 3 & 5 Year Rule

How long does a person have to wait before they can become a United States citizen?

Becoming a United States citizen involves a process called naturalization and in general, there is a wait time of three or five years.

If you are married to a United States citizen, the wait time for you to become a United States citizen is three years. You have to be a lawful permanent resident and be married to the United States citizen spouse for three years.

With that process, you would have to also show immigration that you are still in a bona fide relationship or in a relationship based on love and not just for an immigration benefit.

For all others, the waiting period is five years from the date that your green card was issued. You have to wait five years before you can apply for citizenship.

There is a special filing rule where you can actually file three months earlier than the three-year mark or three months earlier than the five-year mark if you have been living in the same state for at least three months.

For more information, check out our free resource center at where you can learn more about the naturalization process and other eligibility requirements.

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