As immigration laws continue to be a hotly debated topic in the United States, the path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants remains a contentious issue. Many people wonder how long it takes for an illegal immigrant to become a citizen in the United States. The answer, however, is not straightforward. There are several factors that can affect the timeline of this process, including the individual’s current immigration status, their eligibility for certain forms of relief, and the backlog of cases in the immigration system. In this article, we will delve into the complexities of this issue and provide a clear understanding of the timeline for illegal immigrants seeking citizenship in the United States.
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How long does it take for an illegal immigrant to become a U.S. citizen
As a lawyer in the US, I can tell you that the process for an undocumented immigrant to become a US citizen is not a simple or straightforward one.
First, the individual must obtain legal status in the US. This can be done through various means, such as marrying a US citizen, obtaining a job offer from a US employer, or seeking asylum.
Once the individual has legal status, they must wait a certain amount of time before they can apply for citizenship. Generally, this is five years for most individuals, but it can be three years for those who obtained legal status through marriage to a US citizen.
After the waiting period, the individual must then apply for citizenship and undergo a background check, fingerprinting, and an interview with a USCIS officer. They must also pass an English language and civics exam.
The entire process can take several years, and there is no guarantee that the individual will be granted citizenship. It is important to consult with an experienced immigration attorney to understand the specific requirements and timelines for your individual situation.
Example: Juan entered the US illegally in 2005. In 2010, he married a US citizen and was able to obtain legal status through the marriage. Juan would need to wait three years from the date he obtained legal status before he could apply for citizenship. Assuming he applies in 2013 and passes all the required exams and background checks, he could become a US citizen in 2014.
What is the 3 year rule for citizenship
What are the 5 requirements to become a U.S. citizen
As a lawyer in the US, I can tell you that becoming a US citizen is a long process that involves meeting certain requirements outlined by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Here are the 5 requirements to become a US citizen:
1. Be at least 18 years old: To apply for US citizenship, you must be at least 18 years old.
2. Be a lawful permanent resident: You must have a green card and have lived in the US continuously for at least 5 years as a lawful permanent resident (or for 3 years if you are married to a US citizen).
3. Demonstrate good moral character: You must be able to show that you have been a person of good moral character for the past 5 years. This means that you have not committed any crimes and have paid your taxes on time.
4. Pass a test on US civics and English: You must pass a civics and English test, which will test your knowledge of US history, government, and the English language.
5. Take an oath of allegiance: Finally, you must take an oath of allegiance to the United States, renouncing any allegiance to other countries.
For example, if you are a 25-year-old lawful permanent resident who has lived in the US for the past 5 years, has not committed any crimes, can speak English fluently, and has passed the US civics test, you may be eligible to apply for US citizenship.
How many years does it take for an immigrant in the United States to obtain citizenship after receiving a green card
As a lawyer in the United States, I can provide some information regarding the process of obtaining citizenship for immigrants who have received a green card. The timeline for becoming a citizen after receiving a green card can vary depending on the individual’s circumstances, but generally takes at least five years.
To apply for citizenship, the immigrant must meet certain eligibility requirements such as being at least 18 years old, having resided in the U.S. continuously for at least five years (or three years if married to a U.S. citizen), and being able to read, write, and speak English. Additionally, the individual must have a clean criminal record and be willing to take an oath of allegiance to the United States.
Once the application is submitted, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will conduct a background check and schedule an interview to test the applicant’s knowledge of U.S. history and government. After passing the interview and the background check, the individual may then take the oath of allegiance and become a U.S. citizen.
It is important to note that the citizenship application process can be lengthy and complicated, and it is always recommended to seek the guidance of an experienced immigration lawyer to ensure a smooth and successful application.
Eligibility Requirements for U.S. Citizenship:
- At least 18 years old
- Resided in the U.S. continuously for at least five years (or three years if married to a U.S. citizen)
- Able to read, write, and speak English
- Clean criminal record
Example: Maria, a green card holder, has been living in the U.S. for six years. She is eligible to apply for citizenship and meets all the requirements. Maria submits her application and goes through the interview and background check process. After passing both, she attends the oath of allegiance ceremony and becomes a U.S. citizen.
How Long Does it Take for an Undocumented Immigrant to Become a Citizen?
Becoming a lawful permanent resident (LPR) and eventually a citizen of the United States is a lengthy and complex process that requires meeting various requirements and navigating numerous legal hurdles. For undocumented immigrants, the path to citizenship is particularly challenging, but not impossible.
The length of time it takes for an undocumented immigrant to become a citizen depends on several factors, including the individual’s circumstances, how they entered the country, and the current backlog of immigration applications. However, in general, the process can take anywhere from several years to over a decade.
Here are the basic steps an undocumented immigrant must take to become a citizen:
1. Apply for a Green Card: Undocumented immigrants who are eligible to apply for a green card can do so through a family member, employer, or other qualifying category.
2. Obtain Legal Permanent Residence: Once a green card is approved, the individual becomes a legal permanent resident, which allows them to live and work in the United States.
3. Meet the Eligibility Requirements: To become a citizen, an individual must meet certain eligibility requirements, including being at least 18 years old, having lived in the United States for a specified period, and demonstrating good moral character.
4. Apply for Naturalization: Once eligibility requirements are met, the individual can apply for naturalization. This involves passing an English and civics test, attending an interview, and submitting a completed application.
5. Attend a Naturalization Ceremony: If the individual’s application is approved, they will attend a naturalization ceremony and take an oath of allegiance to the United States.
Overall, the process of becoming a citizen is complex, but it is possible for undocumented immigrants who meet certain requirements. Seeking the guidance of an experienced immigration attorney can help ensure that the process goes as smoothly as possible.
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The processing time for naturalization (citizenship) averages 8-14 months according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). During this time, as the government works to process the Application for Naturalization, applicants must complete several steps before becoming citizens.Can I get a green card if I entered illegally? ›
If you entered the United States illegally (as opposed to overstaying), you cannot apply for a green card from inside the United States.How does a legal immigrant become a citizen? ›
Naturalization is the process through which an immigrant to the United States of America can become a U.S. citizen. Only certain immigrants are eligible: those who either have been green card holders (permanent residents) for 3–5 years or meet various military service requirements.What is the 10 year law for immigration? ›
"Individuals who remain in the U.S. without authorization for more than 12 months and then depart are barred from re-entering through any legal channel for at least 10 years."How do you become a U.S. citizen if you are here illegally? ›
- Green Card through Marriage to a U.S. Citizen or LPR.
- DREAMers Green Card through Employment with LIFE Act Protection.
- Asylum Status.
- U Visa for Victims of Crime.
The new immigration registry bill would replace the 1972 cutoff date with a rolling eligibility, allowing individuals to apply for registry after living continuously in the United States for at least seven years and meeting certain admissibility requirements.Can you be deported if you marry an illegal immigrant? ›
The short answer is no. Marriage alone won't stop deportation or prevent you from being deported in the future.Can a U.S. citizen sponsor an illegal immigrant? ›
In many cases, it's possible to apply for a marriage green card for an undocumented spouse. The risks, expenses, and timelines vary depending on whether the sponsoring spouse is a U.S. citizen and whether the undocumented spouse entered the United States illegally.Can you be deported while waiting for green card? ›
You can actually be deported for several reasons. Firstly, you must meet all the criteria to get a green card. If you don't, you will be deported. Secondly, there are certain actions or crimes that could lead to deportation even if you are married to an American citizen, and you have a valid green card.What is the fastest way to become a U.S. citizen? ›
The fastest way to become a U.S. citizen is to be born in the United States. How long do you have to live in the US to become a citizen? You may qualify for naturalization and become a U.S. citizen if you have been a permanent resident for at least 5 years.
Military and marriage-related naturalization are usually the fastest, but even a typical green card route may take as little as five years.What are the 5 requirements to become a U.S. citizen? ›
- 1) Lawful permanent resident of the U.S. ...
- 2) You must be 18 years old. ...
- 3) You must have resided for three months in the state where you will apply for U.S. citizenship.
- 4) Continuous residency and physical presence in the U.S. ...
- 5) You must be a person of good moral character.
Besides having lived in the U.S. continuously for ten years, you will also need to prove to a judge that your close family (who are U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents) would face “exceptional or extremely unusual hardship”.How long must an immigrant stay married? ›
The spouse of a U.S. citizen residing in the United States must have been living in marital union with his or her citizen spouse for at least 3 years immediately preceding the time of filing the naturalization application.Can an illegal immigrant become legal after 20 years? ›
Introduction. There are no provisions in US immigration law that allow an illegal immigrant to change status to a legal immigrant or legal resident (Green Card) based on time spent in the United States.How long can you live in the US illegally? ›
If you were in the country illegally for 180 days to 1 year, you could face a 3-year sentence without being able to return to the US. If you were in the country illegally for more than 1 year, then you will receive a 10-year penalty for reentering.Can I be deported if I become a U.S. citizen? ›
Yes, a naturalized citizen can be deported and have their citizenship revoked when denaturalization has occurred. This process is rare, but does occur. Usually, when you obtain your United States citizenship, it is a status that you will keep forever. You do have the option to appeal a denaturalization decision.Can you get deported for working illegally? ›
Foreign nationals who engage in unauthorized employment can face serious consequences, including deportation. While officials may in select cases forgive unauthorized work, it is best not to take the risk even if you don't plan on pursuing permanent residency or citizenship in the U.S.How long can you stay in the U.S. as an immigrant? ›
Aliens can only stay on a tourist visa in the United States for a maximum period of up to 180 days or 6 months. Note that: In some cases, the United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer will establish a specific time of stay in the country, so it can be a period shorter than 6 months.How do I ask for forgiveness from immigration? ›
Form I-192 is an application for a specific type of waiver used by people wishing obtain such forgiveness and enter the U.S. on a temporary, nonimmigrant basis. (It's of no use to anyone applying for an immigrant visa, otherwise known as lawful permanent residence or a green card.)
The body of law governing U.S. immigration policy is called the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). The INA allows the United States to grant up to 675,000 permanent immigrant visas each year across various visa categories.Do you get citizenship if you marry a US citizen? ›
First, let's get one important thing straight: Marriage to a U.S. citizen makes someone eligible for U.S. lawful permanent residence (a "green card"), not for U.S. citizenship. (At least, not in the short term.) Having a green card for a certain number of years can make the person eligible for U.S. citizenship.Does marrying an immigrant make them a citizen? ›
Marrying an immigrant doesn't automatically give them U.S. citizenship. Whether you have legal immigration status doesn't guarantee citizenship to your partner. But they may be granted U.S. citizenship if they follow the legal processes. The immigrant might be refused entry if they are inadmissible.What happens if you marry an immigrant and then get divorced? ›
How Does Divorce Affect Green Card Status? Getting a divorce will not affect your permanent resident status. You need to renew your permanent green card every 10 years by filing Form I-90: Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card. But there are no questions on this form about your marital or relationship status.Can an undocumented person fly within the US? ›
However, if a passenger does not possess a Real ID, there are other forms of identity that will be accepted. This list includes US passports and permanent residence cards. Undocumented immigrants may therefore be able to fly domestically as long as they hold an approved form of identification on this list.Can illegal immigrants apply for visa lottery? ›
Anyone who is from an eligible country and meets the educational and financial requirements can apply for the visa lottery. That isn't the issue. The real problems comes if you are selected who do you claim the prize? An undocumented immigrant is usually not in lawful status.How much does it cost to sponsor an illegal immigrant? ›
How much does sponsoring an immigrant cost? There are essentially no costs for sponsoring an immigrant to the U.S. Any sponsor would have to file Form I-864 which is free of charge. However, some sponsors choose to pay for the entire immigration process, which can be costly and add up anywhere from $1,000 to $2,000.Can marriage stop deportation? ›
Lawful entry: An individual facing deportation can usually only apply for adjustment of status through marriage if they entered the country legally.Can ICE take away your green card? ›
How does ICE decide to deport a green-card holder with a criminal past? When a green card holder is convicted of a removable crime, ICE agents inform an agency lawyer. The lawyer then decides whether to put the green card holder into removal proceedings.How long does it take for an illegal immigrant to get a green card? ›
It may take up to 90 days from the date you entered to receive your permanent resident card. You entered the U.S. using your immigrant visa, You paid the immigrant visa fee AFTER you entered, It may take up to 90 days from the date you made your payment to receive your permanent resident card.
The top three states with the largest population of lawful permanent residents eligible to become U.S. citizens are California, New York, and Florida. The 10 states with the most eligible U.S. citizens account for 67% of all lawful permanent residents eligible to naturalize in 2022.Which American country gives citizenship easily? ›
An Antigua and Barbuda passport offers you visa-free travel in 151 nations across the world. Antigua and Barbuda is one of the easiest countries to get citizenship by investment.What are the 6 requirements to become a citizen? ›
- I. Establish Eligibility. Before you think of becoming naturalized or applying for a green card, you must be eligible. ...
- II. Maintain Physical, Legal Presence In The U.S. ...
- III. Fill-In Form N-400. ...
- IV. Biometrics Screening. ...
- V. Interview/Naturalization Test. ...
- VI. Oath Ceremony.
Perhaps the most difficult part of the naturalization process is the in-person interview and test with a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officer. The test determines an applicant's ability to speak, read, and write in English, as well as their understanding of U.S. government and history.How long does it take to officially become a U.S. citizen? ›
In general, you may qualify for naturalization if you are at least 18 years old and have been a permanent resident for at least 5 years (or 3 years if you are married to a U.S. citizen) and meet all other eligibility requirements.What are 4 things you must do as a U.S. citizen? ›
- You may be required to renounce your citizenship in other countries. ...
- You must file U.S. income tax returns for life — no matter where you live. ...
- Your criminal history will be heavily scrutinized. ...
- You may be called upon to serve in the military. ...
- You may be called upon to serve on a jury.
- Drug trafficking.
- Any crime of violence or theft that can be punished by a year or more of incarceration.
- DUI (sometimes)
- Sex with a partner who is under the age of consent (18 in some states, including California)
- Money laundering over $10,000.
Respect and obey federal, state, and local laws. Respect the rights, beliefs, and opinions of others. Participate in your local community. Pay income and other taxes honestly, and on time, to federal, state, and local authorities.Can illegal immigrants become legal citizens? ›
Under The Protection Of The LIFE Law
Those undocumented immigrants who have a good level of education and are classified as “Dreamers”, will be able to obtain a Green Card if they have an employer sponsor willing to request a petition on their behalf.
There are no provisions in US immigration law that allow an illegal immigrant to change status to a legal immigrant or legal resident (Green Card) based on time spent in the United States.
There are different types of immigration statuses, and individuals can obtain citizenship through a variety of methods. Deported immigrants may be able to re-enter the country by marrying a U.S. citizen through a waiver of inadmissibility.Can I fly in the US if I'm undocumented? ›
However, if a passenger does not possess a Real ID, there are other forms of identity that will be accepted. This list includes US passports and permanent residence cards. Undocumented immigrants may therefore be able to fly domestically as long as they hold an approved form of identification on this list.Can I get a green card if I live in the U.S. for 10 years? ›
Besides having lived in the U.S. continuously for ten years, you will also need to prove to a judge that your close family (who are U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents) would face “exceptional or extremely unusual hardship”.How long do you have to live in the U.S. to become legal? ›
Naturalization is the way that a noncitizen not born in the United States voluntarily becomes a U.S. citizen. The most common path to U.S. citizenship through naturalization is being a lawful permanent resident (LPR) for at least five years.What is the fastest way for an immigrant to get a green card? ›
- The Green Card Lottery (Diversity Lottery) ...
- Family-Based Green Cards. ...
- Employment-Based Green Cards. ...
- Corporate-Based Green Cards.
Can Green Card Marriage Citizens be Deported? Can you be deported if you are married to an American citizen? The answer is yes, you can. About 10% of all the people who get deported from the U.S. every year are lawful permanent residents.How long are you banned from the US after deportation? ›
Once you have been deported, the United States government will bar you from returning for five, ten, or 20 years, or even permanently. Generally speaking, most deportees carry a 10-year ban. The exact length of time depends on the facts and circumstances surrounding your deportation.Does deportation expire? ›
Deportation orders don't expire, but after a certain number of years you may no longer need a waiver or permission to reapply to return to the USA. How do I know if I have a deportation order? You can check with your Alien number by calling 1-800-898-7180.What is a letter of forgiveness for immigration? ›
This is a letter written in the first person that provides a personal history of the applicant and explains how the applicant has been rehabilitated. It should also detail the applicant's ties to the community and explain what is at stake for his or her family.