Many people seek U.S. citizenship, but the eligibility requirements are specific and not everyone meets them. It is important to understand the basics of who is eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship before you start the process.
There are several paths to obtaining U.S. citizenship. In the following outline, you will learn some factors for eligibility through naturalization and whether you may qualify under this opportunity.
1. You have had a Permanent Resident Card for at least five years
One path to citizenship is for people who have held a Permanent Resident (Green) Card for at least five years. This time limit is three years if you are married to a U.S. citizen. You must apply for naturalization at least six months before your Green Card expires, or else you will have to request a Green Card renewal. Remember that you must retain your Green Card eligibility throughout the entire time you are living in the U.S.
2. You have had continuous residence in the U.S.
Another requirement for naturalization is continuous residence in the United States for at least five years immediately before you file. By continuous residence, the government means the length of time you have maintained a permanent home in the U.S.
3. You have been physically present in the U.S.
In addition to continuous residence, you must be physically present in the United States for at least 30 months out of the five years of continuous residence. Therefore, you do not have to physically live in the U.S. all five years, but rather meet the minimum physical presence requirement.
There are several other requirements involved in applying for U.S. citizenship, such as having good moral character, being at least 18 years old and going through the naturalization process.