How to Obtain a US Citizenship After 5 Years

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U.S. citizenship can be gained through two types of residency: three years through marriage immigration or five years through family, work or refugee immigration. After meeting the legal residency requirement--meaning a permanent visa or Green Card--you can apply for citizenship through the U.S. Department of Citizenship and Immigration. The process requires an application and interview, which contains a civics and English exam. There are no exceptions to shortening the residency limits.

Submit a valid reason to apply for legal residency in the U.S.. You can gain legal residency through a family member connection to a U.S. citizen. The process for gaining a permanent visa through a family connection begins with the filing of the Petition for Alien Relatives, form I-130, that is then followed by filing the I-485 form for permanent residency. To legally live in the U.S. for employment reasons, you must file form I-140, Petition for Alien Worker, and follow its approval with I-485 application for permanent residency. After working and living for five years, you will be eligible to apply for citizenship.

Apply for citizenship. File the N-400 application for U.S. citizenship. Print and complete the N-400 application form. The form can be found on the website of the USCIS under the forms tab at the top of the screen. Send it and the $595 application fee in the form of check of money order written to The Department of Homeland Security, to the appropriate USCIS filing center. There are two possible centers to send your application to, and you must send it to the appropriate one. For those living in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming, Guam, or the Northern Mariana Islands, you will file your application through the Phoenix, Arizona center. Everyone else will file through the center in Lewisville Texas. Send the application and fee to:

USCIS P.O. Box 21251 Phoenix, AZ 85036

USCIS P.O. Box 299026 Lewisville, TX 75029

Wait for your application for citizenship to be reviewed and accepted. Once your application is approved, you will be invited to schedule an interview and exam appointment with a USCIS immigration center.

Attend the interview. At the interview you will be asked additional questions if necessary. You must submit a finger print scanning that will cost you another $80, and you will take a U.S. civics and English examination. The website of the USCIS has a variety of study aides and resources to help you in preparing for the exam, which covers U.S. history and general information concerning how the U.S. government works. The study guides can be found under the resources tab at the top of the screen at the USCIS homepage.

Swear the oath. Once you complete the interview and pass the exam, you will be asked to complete the oath of citizenship. Upon completion, you will receive your certificate and card of citizenship.



About the Author

Mallory Ferland has been writing professionally since her start in 2009 as an editorial assistant for Idaho-based Premier Publishing. Her writing and photography have appeared in "Idaho Cuisine" magazine, "Spokane Sizzle" and various online publications. She graduated from Gonzaga University in 2009 with Bachelor of Arts degrees in history and French language and now writes, photographs and teaches English in Sao Paulo, Brazil.