How to Obtain U.S. Citizenship After Marrying a U.S. Citizen

Obtain U.S. Citizenship After Marrying a U.S. Citizen
Picture of Shawn Sedaghat, Esq.

Shawn Sedaghat, Esq.

Marrying a U.S. citizen can open the door to becoming a permanent resident and eventually a naturalized U.S. citizen. This comprehensive guide walks you through the steps, from the green card application process to proving a bona fide marriage and attending the naturalization ceremony.

Key Takeaways

  • You must be married to a U.S. citizen and have lived in the U.S. for three years as a lawful permanent resident before applying for citizenship, among other requirements.
  • You must live with your American spouse and pass interviews at USCIS to prove your marriage is genuine.
  • File the proper forms and pass an interview to obtain residency. If conditional, apply to remove the conditional status after two years.
  • Stay physically present in the U.S. for at least 18 months out of the three years before applying for citizenship.
  • Be truthful and follow laws throughout the process, as dishonesty or legal issues can prevent you from obtaining citizenship.

Understanding Citizenship Through Marriage

Gaining a green card through marriage is a unique process that combines love and legalities, allowing non-citizens to become eligible for U.S. citizenship through their union with an American spouse. Here’s a detailed look at what it takes to navigate this pathway successfully.

Eligibility Requirements for Spouses of U.S. Citizens

To gain U.S. citizenship through marriage, you must:

  • Be married to a U.S. citizen.
  • Have been a lawful permanent resident for at least three years.
  • Live with your spouse in a marital union during this time.
  • Ensure your spouse has been a U.S. citizen for the entire period before applying.
  • Maintain a strong, genuine marriage to prove to USCIS that your relationship is real.

Marital Union Requirement

You must live with your U.S. citizen spouse for at least three years before applying for citizenship. This marital union must be genuine, not just a means to gain citizenship.

Special Considerations

If your American spouse works abroad for specific organizations like the U.S. government, you might still qualify for naturalization even while overseas. However, you both must plan to return to the U.S. once the job is completed.

Marrying A US Citizen

The Process of Obtaining Citizenship After Marriage

Applying for U.S. citizenship post-marriage involves several legally mandated steps, including petitions, interviews, and periods of conditional residence.

Filing the I-130 Visa Petition

The U.S. citizen spouse must file Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative) with USCIS, providing information about both spouses and their marriage. Supporting documents like marriage certificates, photos, and joint bank accounts should be included to prove the marriage’s authenticity.

Attending an Interview at the USCIS Office

Both spouses will attend an interview at the USCIS office, where an officer will ask questions to ensure the marriage is genuine. Essential documents like tax returns and photos should be brought to support your case.

Spending Two Years as a Conditional Resident

If you have been married for less than two years when your case is adjudicated, you will be granted conditional resident status. You must apply to remove this condition between the 21st and 24th months of your residency. Proving the genuineness of your marriage is crucial during this period.

Waiting to Qualify for U.S. Citizenship

To qualify for expedited naturalization (within three years instead of five), you must meet the following requirements:

  • Marriage to a U.S. Citizen: Live with your U.S. citizen spouse for three years as a lawful permanent resident.
  • Continuous Residence: Reside continuously in the U.S. for three years.
  • Physical Presence: Be physically present in the U.S. for at least 18 months out of the three years.
  • Good Moral Character: Avoid serious criminal offenses and immigration violations.
  • Basic English Language Skills: Demonstrate basic English proficiency.
  • Knowledge of U.S. Civics: Understand U.S. history and government.
  • Intent to Reside in the U.S.: Declare your intention to live permanently in the U.S.


Marriage to a U.S. citizen can expedite the path to citizenship, provided you follow legal procedures meticulously. From obtaining a green card to residing in the U.S. for at least three years and maintaining a genuine marital relationship, each step must be diligently followed for a successful outcome.

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