Adjustment of Status, Citizenship/Naturalization, Family Immigration, Green Card

US Citizenship based on marriage to a US Citizen?

Q: I’m a Canadian citizen married to a US citizen and I’ve never applied for adjustment of status or green card. Can I bypass the green card and apply for citizenship since I’ve been married and living in the USA for 5 years?

A: No, based on what you’ve described, you are not eligible to apply for citizenship. I think you may be confusing several regulations and procedures. A permanent resident (green card holder) is eligible to apply for citizenship after holding permanent resident (green card) status for about 3 years if she or he is married to a US citizen. However, since you do not have a green card, you would not be eligible to apply for citizenship. You’d need the green card (permanent resident status) first.

You are likely eligible to apply for a green card now and adjust your status in the US. Then, after you’ve had the green card for 3 years (assuming you meet other eligibility requirements) you would be eligible to apply for citizenship. Generally, unlawful presence in the US and unauthorized work is forgiven for immediate relatives of US Citizens, but I would recommend you consult with an immigration attorney to review your specific situation and eligibility.
Be sure to sort this out very soon. It sounds like you do not currently have status in the US, which means you could potentially be placed into deportation proceedings.
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