From the rights and freedoms it ensures to the pride it carries to the global privileges it brings, American citizenship is envied throughout the world. If you’re a US permanent resident, you may be wondering when you can exchange your green card for full citizenship. Under ordinary circumstances, you can obtain this status when:
You Are Old Enough
Green card holders have to be at least 18 when they apply to become citizens.
You Have Been Here Long Enough
You must have had permanent residency status for no less than 5 years before you can get citizenship. This means 5 years with a green card specifically, not 5 years total in the country. It also means that you have to have resided in the country continuously during that time, and that you have been physically present here for at least two and a half years before you apply. Though you cannot actually obtain citizenship before you pass the 5-year mark, you can send in the application as much as 90 days prior to that point. Once you send the application in, you have to stay in the country until it is complete.
You Meet Additional Conditions
Besides being the right age and being in the country long enough, you must:
- Be fluent and literate in the English language
- Understand a basic overview of US history, as well as the basics of United States government, as evaluated by a citizenship test
- Have lived in the state where you are applying for citizenship for at least a month; if you are a student, this can be either the state where you attend school or the one where your parents live
In addition to these formal requirements, you also have to demonstrate that you have good moral character and uphold American constitutional principles. The better you can demonstrate this, the better your chances of receiving citizenship.