Citizenship through Marriage: How to Become a US Citizen through Marriage

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Can I become a US citizen through marriage

If you are an American citizen and you have considered getting citizenship through marriage for your spouse, you might be surprised to learn that the process is not as easy as just getting married and filling out a few forms. Getting American citizenship through marriage is not guaranteed, and there are several hurdles in the process. However, with a little bit of patience and attention to detail, you can secure American citizenship for your beloved.



The following process is to get U.S. citizenship for your spouse through naturalization by establishing a permanent residency. The permanent residency card—also known as Form I-551 or a “green card”—will establish residency for your spouse.

To enter the U.S. legally, your newly married spouse must fill out the I-130 form. This is also called the Petition for Alien Relative. It comes with required documentation and a filing fee. Before your spouse is planning to enter the United States, it is important to fill out this card.

After you arrive in the United States, your partner must fill out Form I-485. This is the Application to Register a Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. You have to pay a filing fee to adjust your spouse’s status to that of a permanent residence in the United States.

The USCIS will hold an interview with you and your loved one. If things go well—and if you have been married for less than 2 years at the time residency is applied for and granted, then you will get permanent residency status in the U.S. on a conditional basis.

*If for some reason you are interested in removing the application, you can submit a joint petition through Form I-751—also known as the Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence. It must be filed within the 90-day period before the conditional residence expires.



Now that you have established permanent residency, you must wait for 3 years—while still in marital union with your spouse who is applying for American citizenship via nationalization—this is when you must file citizenship Form N-400. This is an Application for Naturalization. This must be filed along with appropriate fee, as well as any requested documents, and other information, such as proof of marriage, photographs, and your fingerprints.



Once your application has been processed, then you interview with an immigration official. You will be asked questions about your marriage, application, and your background. If everything goes well, then you will have to take a civics test and an English test. If your interviewer is confident of your mastery of the English language, then you may not be required to take an English test.



Being married does not guarantee your citizenship. You must also have the following eligibility requirements as stipulated by Section 319(a) of the Immigration and National Act (INA):

  • Must have resided continuously within the U.S. from the date of naturalization application until the time of naturalization.
  • Be 18 or older.
  • Be able to read, write, and speak English—with a working knowledge of U.S. history and government.
  • Have lived within a U.S. state or USCIS district with jurisdiction over place of residence (such as Puerto Rico) until the time of naturalization.
  • Be physically present in the United States for a minimum of 18 months out of the 3 years immediately preceding the filing of your application.
  • You must not have established a home outside of the United States within the 3 years that you were filing for American citizenship.
  • You must be a person of good moral character, living by the principles of the US. Constitution—and stipulated as being “well disposed to the good order and happiness of the United States during all relevant periods under the law”.



This depends on where you are applying for U.S. citizenship. The USCIS Local Field Office closest to you will reach out to you for a final interview and a review of your application. Processing times can be checked on this website, click here. In some cases, it can take years to get approved for citizenship. However, in some places with low traffic, the oath of allegiance can be taken on the same day.



The final step that your loved one must undergo to become a U.S. citizen is to take an Oath of Allegiance to the United States. After this, congratulations are in order! Your spouse is now a citizen of the US!

*For more information, consult the USCIS website—especially the USCIS Policy Manual Citizenship and Naturalization Guidance. To see this page, click here.

*If you have any issues regarding your policy, then be sure to consult an immigration attorney.

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Comments (8)

  • Merkina Mandado Somano


    • Raf Bracho

      Hello Merkina! It seems like the best way to go about it, is to get married in the United States, and then once you are on US soil, you should apply for permanent residency. I hope this article helps!

  • Jennie Sulemana

    You have to get a visa to get to the United stares to begin with , this is a very uninformed article. You can’t just appear at the airport and get on a plane and arrive in the USA

    • Raf Bracho


      Thank you so much for your comment. This article does not cover the visa process because not all countries are required to have a visa to enter the United States. For example, a Mexican needs a visa, however a Canadian does not.

      That said, the I-130 Form in paragraph two of this article takes the place of a visa and is the document that allows you to enter the United States legally in place of a tourist visa. It is called the Petition for Alien Relative.

      I hope this comment helps to clarify the article!

  • James Mackey

    as a citizen of the U.S. and married and living in the Philippines, My first requirement is the I-130, so we can enter the U.S.?

    • Raf Bracho

      Hello James,

      That is correct. The I-130 application is essentially letting the US government that a relative (in this case your wife) will be entering with you. This website has more information.

      I hope this helps!

  • James Mackey

    so as a U.S. citizen, married in the Philippines for 6 years, do I need a U.S. residence to bring my wife to the US? via the I-130F?

    • Raf Bracho

      Hello James,

      As you can see in the document, lines 12a – 13f ask you where you intend to live upon arriving to the United States. If you have further questions, the USCIS website has an answer questions tool at the bottom with a chat window. Here is the link:

      I hope this comment finds you well!


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