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Citizenship


^ Can I file for citizenship even though I can't find my green card?

Yes, but refer to the Green Card section of this pamphlet, under “I lost my green card. What are my options?”

^ I have legal residency status in the U.S. How soon can I take my citizenship test?

Assuming that you already are a permanent resident and have established residency in the U.S. for the required amount of time (see below), the actual citizenship application process can take between six months to a year, or even more. To begin the citizenship process, you will need to file USCIS form N-400 (Application for Naturalization). You may want to get additional help with the application process to ensure that your citizenship request is not delayed due to a preventable mistake.

The rules regarding length of residency that are provided below both require that you can read, write, and speak basic English, and that you know the fundamentals of U.S. history and the form and principles of the U.S. government. In addition:

Five-year rule: In order to be able to apply for citizenship where you have established residency for at least five years, (1) you cannot have been out of the U.S. for 30 months or more or have taken a foreign trip that lasted one year or more, and (2) you have resided in the state or district in which you are applying for citizenship for the last three months.

Three- to five-year rule: In order to be able to apply for citizenship where you have established residency for less than five years but at least three, (1) you must be married to and have been living with a U.S. citizen for at least the past three years, (2) your spouse must have been a U.S. citizen for at least the past three years, and (3) during the previous three years you have not been out of the country for 18 months or more.

Once the application has been reviewed by the USCIS and has been accepted, you will be scheduled for an immigration test and interview. Again, how long it will take you to wait for the interview process will depend on your location and where you are filing for citizenship. Some districts have longer waiting lists than others.

Once you have taken in the citizenship test for exam, you will need to wait between one day and 180 days, on average, to be able to take the oath of citizenship and become a U.S. citizen.

^ I have lived in the U.S. for more than 25 years. Can I take my citizenship test in my native language?

You can take the test in your native language if you are:

  1. Age 50 or older at the time of filing for naturalization and have lived as a permanent resident (green card holder) in the United States for 20 years (commonly referred to as the “50/20” exception) or
  2. Age 55 or older at the time of filing for naturalization and have lived as a permanent resident in the United States for 15 years (commonly referred to as the “55/15” exception).

If you take the test in your native language, you must bring an interpreter with you to your interview. Your interpreter must be fluent in both English and your native language.

If you are age 65 or older and have been a permanent resident for at least 20 years at the time of filing for naturalization, you will be given special consideration regarding the civics requirement.

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