Your time as a conditional resident counts toward the continuous residence requirement for the purposes of naturalization. In fact, a conditional resident spouse who remains in a viable marriage is often able to become a U.S. citizen three years after first obtaining conditional permanent residency. In other words, many conditional residents with a pending I-751 can file Form N-400 to naturalize as a U.S. citizen.
Continuous Residence Requirement
Continuous residence means that the applicant has maintained residence within the United States for a specified period of time. For a permanent resident married to a U.S. citizen, the requirement is three years. You must have been a lawful permanent resident of the United States for at least three years. In addition, you must have been married to and living with the same U.S. citizen spouse for the last three years, and your spouse must have been a U.S. citizen for the last three years at the time you filed your Form N-400, Application for Naturalization. For examples and to learn more, visit our continuous residence page.
How to Determine When Permanent Residence Started
It’s very easy to determine the date that you became a conditional permanent resident. Look at the front of your green card and find the label for “Resident Since.”
This date is the date you were admitted as a permanent resident of the United States. Even if this is the start date for your conditional residence, you may count this time for the purposes of filing Form N-400.
Applying for Citizenship When I-751 is Still Pending
Even if your I-751 is pending and you’ve not yet received your 10-year green card, you may be eligible to naturalize as a U.S. citizen. Of course, USCIS won’t approve Form N-400 until they have approved Form I-751. As long as you meet the eligibility requirements for naturalization, you may file Form N-400 while the I-751 is pending.
RECOMMENDED: Applying for Citizenship Through Marriage
Sample Cover Letter
When filing Form N-400 with a pending I-751 petition, its helpful to inform USCIS of your situation. Include a cover letter that quickly explains that you have a pending I-751. Use this sample cover letter as a guide. Do not submit this letter without updating it to fit your specific situation.
As stated in the cover letter, included a copy of your I-751 receipt notice with the N-400 application. Additionally, submit evidence that you’ve been living in marital union with your U.S. spouse for the previous three years.
Your U.S. citizen spouse should attend the naturalization interview with you. The I-751 is a joint petition, meaning both you and your spouse file it together. Your spouse’s presence may be required at the interview so that the I-751 petition can be adjudicated before approving the naturalization case.
In some cases, USCIS will not transfer your case and adjudicate simultaneously with the naturalization interview.