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[Jeannie Joung, Immigration Lawyer, 엘에이 이민법 변호사] Citizenship After Green Card Based on Marriage

Have you heard of the term, Time is of the Essence?

This is a legal phrase which basically means that you have to act within a specific time period to preserve your rights. Here, as the Trump Administration carelessly tosses out one executive order after another, those who can must take immediate actions.

It appears that, at this moment in American history, no immigrant is guaranteed a sanctuary in America. Even though the new administration backed down on the recent anti-immigration orders to exclude green card holders, there is no certainty that it wouldn't issue another haphazard executive order and abridge the rights of immigrants. Perhaps the new administration lacks a person of immigrant descent to properly educate them to distinguish between a permanent leglal immigrant from nonimmigrants and refugees. In their nearsightedness, all immigrants are the same, whether they hold a permanent legal resident status or not. For this reason, we recommend those who are eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship to do so immediately.

Eligibility to Apply for Citizenship 3years After Green-Card Based on Marriage

For those who obtained his/her green card based on marriage to a U.S. citizen, their eligibility to apply for U.S. citizenship (also called, Naturalization) becomes sooner than others. For other family-based immigration cases such as brother-sister and parent-child petitions, one must wait 5 years before being eligible to apply for citizenship. The same is true for those who received their green card through employment- based immigration. However, for those who received the green card based on marriage to a U.S. citizen, they can apply for U.S. citizenship 3 years after obtaining their green card, considering the following requirements are met:

  • Obtained green card based on marriage to U.S. citizen;

  • Still married to the same U.S. citizen spouse and residing together as a married couple until citizenship is approved;

  • Have continuous residence in the United States as a lawful permanent resident for at least 3 years immediately preceding the date of filing the application

  • Be physically present in the United States for at least 18 months out of the 3 years immediately preceding the date of filing the application.

For each one of these points, you must submit supporting documents to prove your case. For example, you must show joint documents such as joint income tax returns, joint bills, joint bank statements, etc. to prove that you are still currently married to and reside with the same U.S. citizen spouse. If you meet these requirements, then the time to apply for citizenship is now.

I believe we, the immigrants, know that it is a privilege, not an entitlement to become a citizen of this great country. I believe I, and majority of immigrants here, are grateful to be in this country. In our gratitude, we give back to the community, we contribute, we abide by the supreme law of this land, our great constitution. I pray that our new administration would understand this sooner than later. For them, truly, time is of the essence.

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