U.S. Citizenship for Canadians
Unless born abroad to U.S. citizen parents, Canadian citizens cannot just apply for U.S. citizenship. Instead, Canadians usually have to be a permanent resident (green card holder) and reside in the United States for a certain period of time before they are eligible to naturalize. Learn more about U.S. green cards for Canadians.
Naturalizing Based on Marriage to a U.S. Citizen
If a Canadian citizen obtained permanent residency through marriage to a U.S. citizen, they can apply for naturalization 3 years after the date they were approved for their green card. For example, if you received your green card through marriage to a U.S. citizen on January 1, 2020, you are eligible to naturalize on January 1, 2023. You are allowed to submit your naturalization application 90 days before the three year anniversary.
What if I got divorced after getting my green card?
If a Canadian citizen obtained a green card through marriage but subsequently got divorced, they are still eligible to apply for naturalization. However, instead of applying after three years, they must wait until they’ve had their green card for five years.
Naturalizing Based on Green Card Through a Family Member
If a Canadian citizen obtained permanent residency through sponsorship by a family member other than a U.S. citizen spouse, such as a U.S. citizen parent, sibling, or child, they can apply for naturalization 5 years after the date they were approved for their green card. For example, if you received your green card through a family member on January 1, 2020, you are eligible to naturalize on January 1, 2025. Again, you are allowed to submit your naturalization application 90 days before the five year anniversary.
Naturalizing Based on Green Card Through Employment
If a Canadian citizen became a permanent resident through employment, such as an EB-2 or EB-3 green card, they can apply for naturalization 5 years after first receiving the green card. For example, if you received your green card through an employer on June 1, 2020, you are eligible to naturalize on June 1, 2025. As with naturalizing based on marriage, you are allowed to submit your naturalization application 90 days before the five year anniversary.
Continuous residence requirement
In addition to being a permanent resident for three or five years, you must also meet a continuous residence and physical presence requirement. This means that you have to physically reside in the U.S. for a certain period of time in the years prior to applying for citizenship.
For individuals with green cards obtained through marriage to a U.S. citizen, the Canadian spouse must have physically resided in the U.S. for a minimum of 18 months (1.5 years) within the three years preceding the application for citizenship.
For those with green cards obtained through employment or other family members, the Canadian citizen must have physically resided in the U.S. for at least 30 months (2.5 years) within the five years prior to applying for citizenship.
To maintain the validity of a green card and be eligible for naturalization, Canadians should not exceed a continuous period of six months outside of the U.S. Doing so may disrupt the requirements for continuous residence unless they can demonstrate ongoing ties to the country such as employment, residence, tax payment, and other substantial connections.
If a Canadian citizen plans to stay outside of the U.S. for one year or more, they may be deemed to have abandoned their green card, potentially resulting in the loss of accumulated continuous residence time. In such cases, it is advisable to apply for a re-entry permit before departure, indicating the intention to return and not abandon the green card.
In addition to the physical presence requirement, Canadian citizens must reside in the state or district they are applying from for at least three months prior to applying for U.S. citizenship. Applicants must also demonstrate good moral character, proficiency in the English language, and loyalty to support and defend the U.S. Constitution.
Email us if you are a Canadian with a green card and who is now eligible to naturalize as a U.S. citizen.