How to Apply for U.S. Citizenship when Married to a U.S. Citizen

To apply for U.S. Citizenship, one of the categories of eligibility is to be a Legal Permanent Resident (LPR) and married to a U.S. citizen for at least 3 years. You also must be 18 years old and a person of good moral character.

The application only requires filing Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), either online or by mail. The USCIS total filing fee for form N-400 is $725 ($640 filing fee + $85 biometric fee). The documents required are, but not limited to, copy of green card, marriage certificate (divorce/annulment/death certificate), passport styled-photos, birth certificate, certificate of naturalization (for spouse), proof of bona fide marriage, copies of past Federal income tax returns, and others. It is necessary to provide the translation of any documents not in English.

In addition to supporting documents, one of the most important points in applying for U.S. Citizenship is the physical presence in the United States. During the 3 years prior filing the N-400 application, Applicant must be physically present in the United States for at least 18 months out of the 3-year statutory period.  Applicant must show continuous presence in the United States and not stay outside the country for more than 180 days. Staying outside the United States for more than 180 days, but less than 1 year, there is a presumption of abandonment of permanent residence. However, this presumption is rebuttable, and Applicant will have the burden of proof.

Before the interview is scheduled by the USCIS, Applicant will receive a Receipt Notice, and later a Biometrics Appointment Notice for biometrics screening.

At the interview, Applicant will take an English Test that will evaluate reading, writing, and speaking skills of the English language. And a Civics Test (2008 version), an oral test where Applicant will have to answer 6 questions correctly out of 10 questions. The USCIS provides studying materials for the interview.

If Applicant passes the English and Civics Test, and the Immigration Officer approves the application, Applicant will receive a Notice for the Oath Ceremony. Applicant will receive the Naturalization Certificate after taking the Oath of Allegiance at the Naturalization Ceremony.

The timeline from the submission of the N-400 application until the Oath Ceremony can take between 18.5 months and 24 months.

Please note that this scenario is a simple overview of applying for Citizenship when married to a U.S. citizen spouse. If you have any questions about Naturalization, please do not hesitate to contact me at

Written by Bruna Squires, associate of Drummond Advisors

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