Can I Apply For Naturalization If I Am Still Waiting For Removal Of Conditions Approval?
As crazy as this may sound, the removal of conditions process can take up to 18 months for some applicants. The USCIS does send a letter to extend your expired conditional green card for one year so you can continue working. But if you think about it; you wait this long to receive your 10 year green card but are now eligible to file for naturalization. What do you do?
To be eligible for naturalization you would need to be married to your U.S. citizen spouse (the original petitioner) for at least 3 years. If you have since divorced, you must then wait 5 years to be eligible for U.S. citizenship. There are no options to expedite the removal of conditions process and you will just need to wait until you are approved at the interview or you receive the green card in the mail.
In many cases, if you’re waiting to receive the 10 year green card you are free to apply for naturalization if you have met the 3-year or 5-year requirement.
Naturalization While Waiting For 10 Year Green Card
If you are still married to the original sponsor, you can apply for naturalization 90 days before the three year anniversary of your green card. Notice that I said “anniversary of your green card” and not the anniversary of your marriage. This is a common mistake that many couples make and it results in their petition being rejected.
For example, if you received your green card on November 1st 2015 – you can apply for naturalization after August 2nd 2018.
The great news is that you don’t need to wait until your removal of conditions (I-751) is approved before you apply for U.S. citizenship. The USCIS will eventually process your removal of conditions application but it may be good idea to apply for naturalization as soon as you are eligible.
I have heard of someone getting their 10 year green card in the mail a few weeks before their oath ceremony! Crazy huh?
You might be wondering how it’s possible to apply for naturalization if they haven’t approved your removal of conditions. Yes, this is a strange concept but USCIS allows this to happen so take advantage of it!
Waiting Period For Naturalization
There are two options for those who currently have a green card. You are eligible to either file within 3 years or 5 years from the date on your green card and it is based on your filing status.
To be eligible to file for naturalization using the 3 year rule, you must fulfill these requirements:
- you are at least 18 years old
- are currently married to and living with a U.S. citizen
- have been married to and living with that same U.S. citizen for the past 3 years
- your spouse has been a U.S. citizen for the past 3 years
To be eligible to file for naturalization using the 5 year rule, you must fulfill these requirements:
- you are at least 18 years old and:
- have been a Permanent Resident for the past 5 years and have no special circumstances.
Over 90% of applicants for naturalization fall into the 5 year category.
Denied Removal Of Conditions But Applied For Naturalization
You Can Reapply or Appeal A DenialIn this situation, it will lead to a delay in your naturalization until you solve the issue with the removal of conditions application.
Many times it is as simple as providing the USCIS more evidence of a bona fide marriage, tax transcripts, missing documents, missing signatures, etc.
If the reason you were denied a 10 year green card is more serious such as green card fraud, you may be out of luck. Unless you can prove that their denial was wrong and you have rock solid evidence; you will need to either appeal the decision or reapply.
Once the naturalization application is adjudicated, it will also be denied. The best option is to reapply for removal of conditions with more documents and evidence. Appealing will be expensive and time consuming and the immigration judge rarely overturns a USCIS denial decision.