How Long Does it Take to File for U.S. Citizenship?

23 Dec, 2023

Hi, I’m immigration lawyer John Kasravi. Today, I want to address the common question of how long it takes before being able to file for U.S. citizenship after obtaining a green card. We’ll delve into the specific timelines and requirements for filing for citizenship in the United States.

Understanding the Process

Filing for U.S. citizenship is a distinct process from obtaining a green card. It is essential to have a green card first before being eligible to file for citizenship. Once you have held a green card for a certain period, you can then initiate the process of applying for U.S. citizenship, provided you meet all the necessary requirements.

Timeline Requirements

The focus here will be on the timeline requirements for the standard five-year process, which applies to the majority of individuals seeking citizenship.

Key Considerations

Residency Requirement

Before filing for citizenship, it is imperative to have been living in the same state for at least three months. This prevents individuals from attempting to manipulate the system by relocating to another state in an effort to expedite the citizenship process.

Early Filing

While the standard waiting period for filing for citizenship after obtaining a green card is five years, there is a small exception. Individuals can start the filing process 90 days before reaching the five-year mark of holding their green card. However, it’s crucial to adhere strictly to this timeline to avoid potential denials.

Physical Presence Requirement

In the last five years leading up to the citizenship application, individuals must have been physically present in the United States for at least 913 days. This requirement ensures a substantial presence in the country before pursuing citizenship.

Continuous Residence

Maintaining continuous residence in the United States without prolonged absences is paramount. Any extended absences, such as over a year, can lead to automatic denial of the citizenship application. Even absences of more than six months but less than a year require substantial documentation to justify the time spent outside the country.

Impact of Longer Absences

Extended absences, especially those exceeding one year, can significantly impact the eligibility for citizenship. Recent policy changes have heightened scrutiny around such absences, creating potential complications for individuals with extended time spent outside the United States.

Travel Considerations

Once the citizenship application is filed, individuals are permitted to travel. However, it is essential to ensure that extended periods of time are not spent outside the United States, as this could potentially impact the continuous residence requirement.


The process of filing for U.S. citizenship involves stringent timelines and residency requirements that necessitate careful adherence. It is important to be fully informed about the implications of any extended absences from the country, as recent policy changes have introduced greater scrutiny in this area. For those considering applying for citizenship, it is advisable to seek guidance from legal professionals and stay updated on any developments that may impact the process.

For those interested in seeking further consultation on immigration matters, please feel free to reach out to my office at [email protected]. Thank you for engaging with this valuable information.

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