People that hold a green card will often ask “when can I apply for citizenship” so we’ll take time here to answer that question.
To apply for US citizenship and hold a green card you are generally prohibited from applying for a green card until you have resided in the United States as a lawful permanent resident for a minimum of five years. The rules on timing are very precise so that means five years to the exact date you became a lawful permanent resident. Your green card will display this date so that is your baseline to work from.
For conditional residents who ask “when can I apply for citizenship” the rules are slightly different. The two years that you spend as a conditional resident can count towards the five years, so long as you were permitted to be a lawful permanent resident after those two years.
There are some exceptions to the five-year rule, however. In real terms, you are permitted to submit your US Citizenship application to the USCIS (US Citizenship and Immigration Services) up to 90 days before the five-year wait is up. This is due to the fact the process the USCIS have to go through is fairly time-consuming. This means that by the time you are called in for the interview after you have been through biometric capture, assessment of your application and your English and US government tests, the 90 days has since expired. Therefore, making you eligible.
Another exception is for those married to and living with a US citizen. In these circumstances, the wait is only three years. There is a requirement to provide proof that you meet these criteria that should be submitted along with your application. This exception is still valid even if you obtained your green card outside the marriage. For example, you may have obtained your green card through employment.
For refugees asking “when can I apply for citizenship” the rules differ some more. You can use your time as a refugee before you obtained your green card to count towards the five years. It doesn’t matter how long you had refugee status before obtaining your permanent resident status, all this time can be used as though you had been a green card holder for that whole duration.
So, when you are thinking to yourself “when can I apply for citizenship” keen in mind there are numerous routes and it is worth seeking advice on the options.