We get this question a lot!
This is a common question that immigration
lawyers in Orange County hear from permanent residents – how long until you can
apply for U.S. citizenship? While there is a general timeline set out by law,
like so many other immigration matters, there are also many exceptions to the
general rule. Read on for information about waiting times, and contact an
immigration lawyer in Orange County at Brudner Law to discuss your specific
The General Standard is Five Years
For most permanent residents, you must live in
the U.S. with a green card for at least five years before you qualify for
possible citizenship. If you were a conditional resident, the two years of
conditional status count toward your five years, as long as you successfully
obtained permanent residency after the two years ended.
Note that you can submit your citizenship
application during the 90 days prior to your five-year anniversary with a green
card. This is to allow for processing time with USCIS, so you can get your
interview and the process underway as soon as possible after five years have
There are cases in which a different time
period may apply for green card holders to qualify for citizenship, including:
- If you are married to a U.S.
citizen, you can apply three years from the marriage date (provided you had
conditional residency or a green card)
- Battered spouses can also use the
three-year rule even if they ended their marriage to the U.S. citizen due to
- Years lived as a refugee prior to
receiving a green card may count toward the five year-requirement
- One year lived as an asylee may
count towards the five-year requirement
- If your spouse is a U.S. citizen
that must work overseas, you may have a shorter time period as long as you meet
It is important to note that some factors may
extend the amount of waiting time, which an experienced Orange County
immigration attorney can determine.