After getting married to a U.S. citizen, the marrying spouse does not automatically become a U.S. citizen too. However, there are several ways that a spouse can begin the path to U.S. citizenship.
The most crucial factor for an immigrant is to make sure they legally entered the U.S. This will make the process much smoother for both parties.
After getting married, an non-citizen spouse can apply for a lawful permanent resident status (a "green card"). During this process, it’s important to show that the marriage is not just on paper — that both parties have taken steps to build a life together. That could include doing the following:
- Buying a big item together (a house, a car, etc…);
- Getting a bank account together; and,
- Listing each other as beneficiaries.
Both the citizen and non-citizen spouses will likely need to attend an interview at a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services ("USCIS") field office, where an immigration officer will ask questions about the marriage and about the applicant's eligibility for a green card.
Once a green card is issued, the next step would be to file for naturalization. To be eligible for naturalization, the foreign spouse must:
- Be at least 18 years old;
- Have been living in the U.S. for at least three years and of those three years, have physically been in the U.S. for at least 18 months;
- Have been with their spouse for three years;
- Be in the state where they are filing their paperwork for at least three months;
- Have the ability to read, write, and speak basic English ; and,
- Have demonstrated good moral character for at least three years before filing for naturalization.
To begin the citizenship process, the resident should complete and submit Form N-400. Those who complete this form can fill it out online or mail it in. The filing fee for Form N-400 is $640, as of May 31, 2022. You may find tips to complete this form from USCIS's website here.
Don’t feel like you need to complete these legal forms alone. At Murray Osorio PLLC we’ve helped thousands with their immigration paperwork to make sure it’s done correctly the first time and avoid any extra delays. Schedule a consultation so we can help you with your citizenship matters.