So, You’ve Married a U.S. Citizen: How to Document the Next Four Years of Your Life Until You, Too, are a U.S. Citizen

So, You’ve Married a U.S. Citizen: How to Document the Next Four Years of Your Life Until You, Too, are a U.S. Citizen

You married a US citizen. Congratulations on wedded bliss! Now, what comes next? You will need to document your life together for the next few years until you get your green card and then you too become a U.S. citizen. What do you need? What should you document? In this post, I’ll walk you through how to record the next few years of your life. 

U.S. immigration law normally requires that a permanent resident live in the U.S. for a minimum of five years before applying for U.S. citizenship. But special rules allow those married to a U.S. citizen to navigate that path in only three years and you are even allowed to submit the application three months before you are actually eligible to become a citizen. To do this, you will need to:

  • Live in a “marital union” with your U.S. citizen spouse for at least three years before filing your naturalization application.
  • Continue to be the spouse of the U.S. citizen up until the day you take the oath of citizenship.
  • Continuously reside in the U.S. for at least three years before applying.
  • Be physically present in the U.S. at least 18 months of the three years preceding your application.
  • Live within the state or U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) district processing your application for at least three months before filing.
  • Pass tests on English reading, writing, and speaking and U.S. civics and history.
  • Demonstrate good moral character for at least the three years preceding your naturalization application.

You will need to document your cohabitation and residence in the U.S. for the years preceding a naturalization application. Someone who resides in the U.S. will generally maintain a permanent home in the U.S., file taxes here, work or go to school in the U.S., and maintain community ties. You should keep copies of joint leases, mortgage documents, and tax returns; and you should document your community activities and ties. You should keep family photos, proof of travel with your spouse, proof of joint parenting or pet ownership, proof of events big and small with documents in both of your names. 

The process of applying to become a naturalized U.S. citizen through marriage can be complicated and arduous. I can help you from your first visa application to your oath of citizenship and ensure that this process is as painless and efficient as possible. It is important to talk to a lawyer before starting the process to learn about processing times and also to learn about any issues that may make it harder for you to become a citizen, may even make you ineligible for U.S. citizenship permanently or for a period of time, or may put your current lawful permanent residence at risk